Fewer people being charged for vehicle thefts in West Yorkshire

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Fewer people are being charged with stealing vehicles and joyriding in West Yorkshire, new figures reveal.

The RAC says that across the country thefts are increasing but fewer suspects are being identified, describing it as “the worst possible combination”. Home Office data for 2018 shows 149 out of 4,792 thefts of a motor vehicle resulted in someone being charged or summonsed to court by West Yorkshire Police – just 3 per cent of cases. This represents a drop on 2015’s figures, when a suspect faced prosecution in 6 per cent of cases. The figures include the lesser offence of an “unauthorised taking”, where a criminal takes a vehicle without the owner’s permission but without intending to keep it - true in many cases of joyriding. But over the same period, the proportion of cases where the investigation was closed without a suspect being identified also dropped slightly, from 79 per cent to 76 per cent.

RAC Insurance spokesman Simon Williams said: “Those who have had their cars stolen will no doubt be angered and frustrated by the fact very few of those responsible for these crimes are ever brought to justice. As well as the personal stress caused, every theft also contributes to making the cost of car insurance more expensive for everyone who drives.”

Simon Kempton, operational lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “It is frustrating to see so many investigations being dropped, but there are now almost 22,000 fewer officers than there were in 2010. Our members are trying to meet growing demand with dwindling numbers.