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10 worst postcodes for car crimes in the UK

A man breaking into a car

Everyone who drives a car will have imagined that sinking feeling of finding out your vehicle isn’t where you left it. It’s an all-too-common experience in the UK, with figures showing there’s a car theft every six minutes.

But which areas of the country have seen the highest numbers of car crimes (including thefts from cars) in recent times? Here’s a rundown of the most badly hit postcode districts, based on UKCrimeStats’ official data from May 2021 to May 2022.

10. N15 - Reported car crimes: 1,087

Almost all the hotspots on this top 10 list are in London and we begin in N15, a postcode that covers bustling areas like Seven Sisters, Harringay and South Tottenham.

In an example of how petty criminals can be, one man was jailed in 2022 after breaking into a car parked in South Tottenham to steal a satnav and four cans of Red Bull. He was serving a suspended sentence for car crimes at the time.

9. N1 - Reported car crimes: 1,099

The N1 district includes some of the most popular areas in north London, including the commuter region of King’s Cross, restaurant-packed Islington, and the hipster-hub that is Hoxton.

A particularly striking car crime case in 2022 involved a quirky, yellow three-wheeled van carrying a 12-foot-high wood-fired pizza oven on the back, which was stolen from the company owner’s Kings Cross headquarters at night. “At least buy a pizza if you do see it going by,” the owner later joked.

8. LE3 - Reported car crimes: 1,127

The only non-London area that makes the top 10 is LE3 in Leicestershire. The district encompasses parts of Braunstone, an area that was mentioned in the Domesday Book, as well as the village of Glenfield, and the residential Leicester suburb of New Parks.

Some of the thieves have been particularly heartless, targeting vehicles parked at Glenfield Hospital to steal their catalytic converters. These components are prized because they contain precious metals like platinum and palladium.

7. E16 - Reported car crimes: 1,132

We return to the capital now and will remain there for the rest of the list. E16 corresponds to places like the riverside district of Silvertown (immortalised in the song Silvertown Blues by Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler) and the onetime shipbuilding quarter of Canning Town.

Sadly, car crime is rife in these parts. A few years ago, a paramedic’s Land Rover was taken from an ambulance station car park while he was attending an emergency call – showing how some criminals have absolutely no concerns about who they target.

6. NW2 - Reported car crimes: 1,246

Over to NW2 now, a postcode district largely taken up by Cricklewood. Once home to several well-known people, including Peter O’Toole, Ken Livingstone, Simon Pegg and Zadie Smith, Cricklewood abounds with historical landmarks.

The postcode also covers some of Willesden, where a particularly egregious car theft hit the local headlines. A man was seen using a saw to hack away at a vehicle’s catalytic converter in broad daylight, even pausing to raise his middle finger at dumbfounded onlookers. One witness described it as like something from the Wild West.

5. E14 - Reported car crimes: 1,284

E14 includes the East End areas of Poplar, made famous in recent years as the setting of Call the Midwife, and the distinctive peninsula of the Isle of Dogs. This neck of the woods is also where you’ll find the gleaming financial hub of Canary Wharf, with its futuristic skyline.

Despite large swathes of the area being a playground for the wealthy, car thieves are still at work, committing 1,284 crimes in a year.

4. E17 - Reported car crimes: 1,408

Perhaps the only postcode district to have been made famous by a pop band, E17 is where you’ll find Walthamstow. The landmarks in this part of the capital include the iconic (though now closed) greyhound racing track Walthamstow Stadium, and the former family home of the great Victorian designer and activist William Morris.

Unfortunately, car crime has many residents riled. In 2022, locals reported that one street alone was being repeatedly targeted by thieves and vandals who were slashing tyres, keying the sides of vehicles and stealing steering wheels.

3. N17 - Reported car crimes: 1,745

N17 covers Tottenham and South Tottenham, and encompasses the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. It’s a vibrantly multicultural part of the capital, boasting communities from many corners of the world.

The third most targeted area for car crimes, N17 saw 1,745 reported incidents between May 2021 and 2022. Which is a hefty number, but two other London districts have been even more blighted.

2. NW10 - Reported car crimes: 1,785

Widely known as the reggae capital of Britain, Harlesden is one of the areas covered by the NW10 district code. Nearby, there’s also the Kensal Green Cemetery, celebrated for its gothic grandeur and as the resting place of numerous notable aristocrats, military figures, artists and scientists.

It’s also the runner-up in our top 10, thanks to criminals like the local man who had the audacity to use a recovery vehicle to cart away the vehicles he stole.

1. CR0 - Reported car crimes: 2,014

CR0 includes Croydon, one of the most popular parts of London (and the setting for Peep Show). It also has the dubious honour of taking the top spot, being the only postcode district to suffer more than 2,000 car crimes in our designated period.

What’s more, according to recent research by Direct Line Motor Insurance, Croydon is also the London borough where the most carjackings have taken place over the past few years.