Drivers in the centre of the region’s biggest city are almost 150 times more likely to fall victim to car crime than an upmarket village in the Tyne Valley, a new study suggests.
The data, compiled from Freedom of Information responses by motoring website HonestJohn.co.uk, said there are 1,182 crimes committed per 10,000 cars registered in the NE1 postcode in Newcastle city centre, more than double the region’s second place, Sunderland city centre, with 467 offences.
The figures make Newcastle’s the sixth worst car crime rate in the country, and suggest that motorists are more likely to become a victim of crime in Newcastle than in Birmingham, Liverpool, Cardiff or Bristol.
The website claims Northumbria Police figures show significant car crime hotspots out towards the coast, with Wallsend, South Shields, Tynemouth, Whitley Bay and Blyth all seeing higher levels of crime.
But elsewhere the region sees some of the lowest crime rates anywhere in the country, with the NE45 postcode – Corbridge – seeing just eight crimes per 10,000 cars.
Police in the area disputed the claims yesterday.
Newcastle Area Commander Chief Superintendent Gary Calvert said: “The HonestJohn website figures, which refer to 2011-2012, compare the number of crimes committed in a given area, to the number of cars registered at the same area. This method of calculating crime does not represent a true picture when applied to Newcastle because the city is a retail, commercial, and entertainment hub with far more cars coming into the city than there are registered here.
“As a result, the figures, and in particular the percentages calculated cannot provide an accurate figure of the level of crime compared to the number of cars.
“That said, we take all such crimes seriously and our neighbourhood officers conduct proactive policing operations to deter, target and arrest thieves intent on stealing from cars.
“We also need the public’s help to combat this type of crime, and would always remind motorists to secure their vehicle, even if leaving it for just a few seconds, by locking doors and ensuring windows are closed.
“Anything of value should be removed from view and if at all possible removed from the vehicle altogether as thieves know to check glove boxes and boots for property.”
Daniel Harrison, editor of HonestJohn.co.uk, said: “The data illustrates that a large proportion of incidents take place in city centres, populated by shopping areas, tourist destinations and hotel districts.
“As with many cities, vehicles left in on-street parking zones tend to be more vulnerable to being broken into and suffering criminal damage.”
This method of calculating crime does not represent a true picture applied to Newcastle