The effect of lockdown measures on vehicle crime

What we found when we analysed vehicle crime during the period March 16th to July 4th 2020.

Has the trend continued to date?

Date Published: 30th September 2020
Author: David James, CEO


We were interested to see if COVID-19 restrictions had an effect on the levels of reported vehicle thefts in the UK, by comparing the volume of reported vehicle thefts between 2019 and 2020. The source of this data is the UK Police, who supply us, Total Car Check with the data in order for us to provide vehicle provenance checks to our users.


In the period March 16th to July 4th 2020 there were 21,729 vehicles recorded as stolen by the UK Police, in the exact same period one year previous there were 34,350 recorded as stolen.

This means there was 36.7% reduction in the number of vehicles recorded as stolen in the defined period.

In order to see if this trend was continuing, we analysed the data from March 16th 2020 to September 28th 2020 and compared it to the same period a year previous. We found that in the 2020 period 42,640 vehicles were reported stolen, and in the same 2019 period it was 61,946, this is a reduction of 31.1%

Finally to complete our analysis, we looked at the levels of reported stolen vehicles from January 1st 2020 to March 16th 2020, which was 23,505, and compared it to the year previous, 2019, and found it was almost identical at 23,583. That is to say, before COVID-19 restrictions, vehicle crime levels were almost identical between 2019 and 2020. We then compared 2020, January 1st to September 28th with the year previous and found 66,145 reported stolen so far in 2020, whereas in the same period in 2019 it was 85,529, a year on year reduction of 22.6%.


Lots to digest, but what is clear is that COVID-19 lockdown restrictions has had a significant effect on the volume of vehicles reported as stolen, clearly criminals lives were made more difficult by the fact that it was more difficult for them to operate without appearing suspicious during the height of COVID-19 lockdown and also more people were at home 24 hours a day, reducing the opportunities for car thefts from homes whilst the owner was not present.

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