How car theft in Essex has rocketed by 20 per cent in one year

New figures from the Home Office show Essex Police recorded 5,385 crimes of ‘theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle’ in the year to June – up 20 per cent from 4,481 thefts the year before.

That was also a rise from the same period five years ago, when 4,394 such crimes were registered in the county.

Across England and Wales there were 132,000 vehicle thefts in the year to June – up 13 per cent from 116,000 the year before.

The AA said the jump in car thefts is a cause for concern and called for action.

Gus Park, managing director for AA insurance services, said: “These figures are in danger of getting out of control, which if left to spiral further will have big cost implications in terms of the impact to wider society – let alone the price policy-holders pay.

“We urge police chiefs and crime commissioners across the country to create an action plan to crack the case.”

Mr Park further suggested drivers should avoid “giving miscreants an easy win”, advising them to use steering wheel locks and parking in a garage where possible.

The charge rate remains low for car thefts – with just two per cent in Essex resulting in a charge in the past year.

Some 84 per cent of cases were closed without the force identifying a suspect.

The Chief Constable of Essex Police vowed in September to make Essex “a difficult place for car criminals to operate”.

Ben-Julian Harrington said he was committed to ensuring those who have their cars stolen across the county get them back.

In August, 18 stolen vehicles worth almost £436,000 were found by the police in a suspected ‘chop shop’ in Ipswich Road, Colchester.

Mr Harrington said: “In time, we will make Essex a difficult place for car criminals to operate.”

But he admitted: “I would be making false promises if I said that we will go to every car theft reported to us.”