Thousands of car criminals manage to avoid punishment
- Credit: Archant
Thousands of car criminals in Norfolk have gone unpunished as less than 2pc of cases are taken to court.
Norfolk Constabulary figures show officers dealt with 7,412 vehicle-related crimes between January 2017 and November this year.
But around 74pc of cases closed with no suspect being found, meaning the perpetrators of 5,502 crimes have gone unpunished.
Superintendent Dave Buckley, of Norfolk police, said one of the main challenges was the lack of forensic evidence.
He said: "In addition sometimes victims do not realise their car has been broken into until some hours after the offence, resulting in a delay reporting the incident meaning the opportunity to catch the offender has often disappeared."
Despite this, the county has one of the lowest rates of vehicle offences in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, being placed at 40 out of 45 police force areas, according to data collected by Click4reg.co.uk.
It found London had more than 50 times the number of car crimes compared to Norfolk in 2019, topping the list with 98,177 incidents.
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Supt Buckley said: "There are many measures people can take to protect themselves from car thieves, such as removing valuables, fitting security devices and always locking a vehicle, even if being left for just a few minutes."
The number of incidents has fluctuated in the last three years, with 2,004 recorded cases so far this year compared to 2,814 in 2018 and 2,603 in 2017.
Just 1.6pc of cases ended with the offender being prosecuted, with 49 people sent to prison, 10 fined, 38 given a community sentence, 16 given a suspended sentence and seven ordered to pay compensation.
Nineteen offenders were cautioned while 106 cases are still awaiting an outcome in court.
Norwich had the most car crimes in the county but the number of cases reduced by around 40pc from 805 in 2018 to 473 in 2019. Great Yarmouth had the second highest number of car crimes, with 304 incidents reported this year, while North Norfolk had the lowest with 111 cases.
King's Lynn saw the biggest drop in the number of incidents, down from 397 in 2018 to 196 this year.
Elsewhere, 197 car crimes were reported in South Norfolk this year, while 205 were in Broadland and 275 in Breckland.