4.3 million UK motorists have been a victim of car vandalism in the past year, a report on vehicle vandalism report from Direct Line showed - up from just over 3.5 million in 2006.
In 2006, 11 per cent of motorists claimed that they had been the victim of car vandalism. In 2007 it had risen to 30 per cent, resulting in an estimated total bill of "659 million for damage caused ¢ a rise of over "100 million on the previous year.
Most common acts of vandalism
Once again, the most common acts of vandalism against cars are scratched paintwork and/or being 'keyed', affecting 43 per cent of victims, followed by damaged wing mirrors (23 per cent) and smashed windows (21 per cent).
The majority of car vandals strike at dusk or after dark, with two thirds (63 per cent) of victims having discovered that damage had been caused during this time. However, street lighting proved no deterrent, as a staggering 49 per cent of victims' cars were targeted while parked on a well-lit road outside their own home or even on their own driveway.
Despite the apparent rise of car vandalism, the official records may not show the true scale, as drivers shy away from reporting it to the police. In total, nearly eight and a half million (58%) of all victims over the last twenty years have not reported the most recent incident.
This is because they did not feel there was enough evidence to bring the perpetrator to justice (49 per cent of those not reporting the incident), or the extent of the damage was fairly minor and not worth making a fuss about (35 per cent).
Over three quarters (77 per cent) of all victims did not make a claim on their insurance for any damage caused, with 59 per cent imagining that the value of the repairs did not warrant making one. Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) were concerned about losing their No Claims Discount.
Tony Chilcott, Head of Car Insurance at Direct Line, comments: "Official figures show that vandalism overall is a growing crime, with a 5 per cent increase on the previous year but, as our research shows, many acts of car vandalism go unreported, meaning that the actual number will be significantly higher."
Incidents need to be reported to the police and assigned a crime reference number. Claimants usually also need to pay the excess, and any damage being claimed for cannot have been caused by another vehicle.
Top ten acts of car vandalism
Scratched paintwork and/or being 'keyed' 43%
Damage to wing mirror 23%
Smashed windows 21%
Snapped aerials 9%
Snapped wipers 7%
Slashed tyres 5%
Smashed lights 5%
Badge theft (eg VW badge) 4%
Spray paint/graffiti on car 3%
Top ten places where car vandalism takes place
Street outside home with street lights 38%
Car park with lighting 15%
Street in town centre with street lights 11%
Street outside a friend's house with street lights 8%
Car park without lighting 5%
Street/car park/at work without lighting 5%
Street outside home without street lights 2%
Street in town centre without street lighting 1%
Street outside a friend or relative¢s house without street lights 1%