Just under three millions cars were vandalised in the UK last year, resulting in a collective repair bill of £1.9 billion – an increase of 9.5% on the previous year and averaging at £661 per victim.
The data comes from a new study by Churchill Insurance, who surveyed motorists and filed a Freedom of Information request with police forces, and provides a detailed account of the prevalence of car vandalism in the UK.
The study revealed Plymouth, Sheffield and London to be the UK’s car vandalism ‘hotspots’. In Plymouth, 26% of respondents said their car had been vandalised in some way. In Sheffield it was 25% and in London 23%.
The types of vandalism reported ranged from the bodywork being dented or scratched with keys to windows being smashed, wing mirrors being broken or removed and graffiti.
Churchill said that nearly half of victims think they know who the vandal was, despite police forces closing 60% of car vandalism cases without even identifying a suspect.
Disputes and arguments among neighbours are thought to be the main cause of vandalism damage, with Churchill’s research showing one in ten victims blame people who live near them.
Another common cause is ‘crimes of passion’, as 5% blamed the damage on current or former partners and the same amount blamed a love rival.
Data revealed by the police suggest that children are responsible for most car vandalism. 20% of all police cautions over the past three years related to car vandalism were issued to youths.
The rise of online ‘prank’ videos is also thought to be a cause for the increase in car vandalism. More than 12% of motorists believed their car was targeted as part of a prank or ‘funny video’ to share on social media.
What is the punishment for car vandals?
If they are convicted, car vandals can expect to receive penalties of up to £2,500 or up to three months in prison if they cause less than £5,000 of damage to a car. If the damage is more than £5,000 then the maximum prison sentence is six months or they can receive a maximum fine of £5,000.
However, Churchill’s analysis found that many vandalism cases investigated by police only ever result in a caution.
Top 10 UK car vandalism hotspots
|City||% of cars damaged by vandals|
Steve Barrett, head of car insurance at Churchill, said:
A moment of anger or mindlessness on the part of the vandal can cause victims long-lasting stress and worry and, as our research shows, can cost motorists dear.
It’s an extremely unfair act and while not all cases will result in a conviction, we strongly advise victims report vandalism to the police.
If repairs aren’t made to even small scratches and dents, the condition of the vehicle will deteriorate which could significantly impact the resale value.