Nearly one in five UK car owners has been a victim of theft from their vehicle, new research into car break-ins has revealed.

With 831,000 incidents of vehicle-related crime reported in the UK in 2016 alone, car leasing company UK Carline researched car crime to find out the most common things UK car owners have had stolen from their vehicle.

Car radios proved the most desirable items amongst thieves, with 31% of car owners who had their vehicle broken having one stolen, followed by shopping bags (17%) and Sat Navs (13%).


However, it wasn’t just high-value items that Brits have had stolen. A Simpsons air freshener, sweets, a case of beer and a snooker cue were among the haul of things taken from vehicles, with one hapless thief even swiping an empty laptop bag after its owner took the laptop into a store to be repaired.

Despite the research discovering that 19% of car owners have had something stolen from their car, 40% of people still leave valuables in their car, with 26% believing this to be safe if they aren’t on display.

However, as the research shows, an item doesn’t have to be considered highly valuable to be appealing to thieves, with clothes and shoes the fifth most likely item to be stolen from vehicles.

This is something that Carolyn Pearson, 45, knows all too well. The travel writer from London says the strangest thing she has had stolen from her car was a bag of clothes that she was intending to drop off at the charity shop.

Lucy Locket, 23 from Sheffield on the other hand, had the window of her car smashed only for the thief to steal one trainer. “It is really baffling as to why they only took one,” she said. “As a pair they would have sold for a decent amount, as they were specialist decathlon trainers. I can only assume they were interrupted mid break-in.”

Commenting on the research, Jonathan Nolan, general manager at UK Carline, said: “As the research shows, it’s no longer just radios and sat navs that are being stolen from cars.

“An item that you might not consider risky to leave on display may be highly desirable to a thief that has spotted an opportunity, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and leave the bare minimum on display in your car.

“With thieves adapting their skills to compete with new car technologies, it’s clear that owners need to be more vigilant and careful with their belongings than ever before. It’s advisable to ensure your vehicle has the latest security features fitted, including an alarm and immobiliser, to make it harder for criminals to target your vehicle.”

Top ten items stolen from cars in the UK:

  1. Car radio
  2. Shopping bags
  3. Sat Nav
  4. Mobile phone
  5. Clothing/shoes
  6. Sunglasses
  7. Vehicle badge
  8. Wallet
  9. Wheels
  10. Number plate