Thefts of caravans and motorhomes rose by 13.8% in 12 months according to a new report by AX Track following a freedom of information request to all UK police forces.
The data obtained by AX Track, the vehicle tracing and recovery experts, shows that of the 30 responses received from the 45 police forces in the UK, 12 saw more reported thefts in 2022 than in 2021.
Analysis of the data received via the FOI requests shows that Dorset (233%), Suffolk (225%) and Gloucestershire (188%) saw the biggest increases in reported thefts between 2021 and 2022.
The new report compiled by AX Track puts a spotlight on leisure vehicle crime as the vehicles grow in popularity in the UK. The number of British people considering a touring holiday has grown by 20% in the two years to April 2022 and leisure vehicle ownership is predicted to grow by over 40% by 2030.
The report has also identified that thefts tumbled by a third (32.8%) during Covid-hit 2020, before dropping by a further 1.7% in 2021 and then rising by 13.8% in 2022. However, theft rates in 2022 were still 24.8% lower than in 2019.
The areas with the biggest year-on-year decline in thefts (between 2021-2022) were Northern Ireland (-50%), Dyfed-Powys (-50%) and Surrey (-43%). Dyfed-Powys also saw the biggest drop between 2019 and 2022, with 88% fewer incidents reported.
Neil Thomas, Director of Investigative Services of AX, says: “These vehicles are highly desirable to criminals and as they rise in popularity and become trendy lifestyle assets, they are being targeted by criminals. While it is great to see that thefts are actually down since 2019, the trend now is upwards.
“The criminals are brazen; these vehicles are often people’s homes or a place they spend a significant amount of time, so in many ways it is much more intrusive and upsetting than having your car stolen.
“The stats we’ve uncovered may just be the tip of the iceberg. Some owners don’t report thefts for fear of their high-value caravan or motorhome being recorded as stolen, which could significantly hit resale values. Some turn to social media groups to try to locate the vehicle themselves, which could expose them to the risk of fraudsters offering to find the vehicle for a reward so I would warn owners to be vigilant. We have also seen cases where owners find that their insurance company won’t pay out for thefts unless it is in a secured storage location.”
The recovery rate of a vehicle following a theft tends to be low. The AX Track report does not contain a significant volume of data on this aspect, but West Yorkshire Police reported that it recovered just 51 of 225 (23%) caravans and motorhomes stolen between 2019 and 2022. West Midlands Police provided data indicating that a suspect was not identified in 107 of 112 thefts.
Thomas added: “We use Thatcham approved covert technology and a team of recovery experts who are available 24 hours a day. We always recommend using clever geo-fencing systems. These allow owners to set an alert if the item moves from a designated zone – the first few minutes or hours after a theft are crucial, especially if you don’t have a cutting-edge tracking device.
“While the motorhome and caravan theft data could potentially include vehicles like converted vans, it does, however, tell us thefts are a problem and that we need to help owners tackle the issue.
“There are lots of products available to protect these vehicles. Most insurers specify required security measures, but often owners do not comply with the conditions. If their vehicle is then stolen, their claim could be dismissed. It is quite common for owners to not to install security devices to the wheels, and some may let their vehicle tracking subscription lapse too.
“As the summer season ends and winter approaches, owners should be extra vigilant about security. These vehicles are more vulnerable when they aren’t being used or are being stored so we advise owners to take advantage of the security measures available to them.”
Top 10 areas where thefts increased between 2021 and 2022
|Police Force||Number of thefts per year||Percentage change|
|2019||2020||2021||2022||2019 to 2020||2020 to 2021||2021 to 2022||2019 to 2022|
|West Yorkshire Police||52||47||35||91||-9.6%||-25.5%||160.0%||75.0%|
|Devon and Cornwall Constabulary||19||23||11||26||21.1%||-52.2%||136.4%||36.8%|
|North Wales Police||10||1||8||14||-90.0%||700.0%||75.0%||40.0%|
|Avon and Somerset Constabulary||21||24||15||25||14.3%||-37.5%||66.7%||19.0%|
|West Mercia Police||90||57||70||96||-36.7%||22.8%||37.1%||6.7%|