Children criminally charged with vehicle theft numbers in the thousands

More than 1,000 children have been convicted of vehicle theft in the past three years, new figures reveal.

Children as young as 11 were among the 1,156 successfully prosecuted, according to a study by insurance firm Direct Line.

Of the total number convicted between 2019 and 2021, more than half (53%) were aged between 15 and 16 and 10% were 13 or 14.

Shockingly, seven children from 11 to 12 were charged during the same period – and Yorkshire Police reported minors as young as 10 had also been arrested for the same charge.

The pandemic unsurprisingly affected the number of offences, taking them from 514 in 2019 to 356 and 286 in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

But now restrictions are lifted there is concerns among the organisation that these crimes will rise again.  

Direct Line released the statistics based on insight from their ‘Truth about car theft’ campaign which looks to show how car theft can be a gateway to more serious offences.

Professor Rachel Armitage, Professor of Criminology, University of Huddersfield, said: “Our research found many prolific car thieves start committing vehicle crime at a young age, often in their early teens.

“Unfortunately, car crime can often be a gateway crime to more serious offences. Offending can sadly be driven by older family members, or to fund an illegal drug habit,

“So it is important we also consider how vulnerable children can be supported to help prevent them engaging in criminal activity in the first place.”   

West Yorkshire Police support the avalanching crime theory with data showing 765 people under 18 in the region were charged with other offences in the same time frame, having previously been charged with vehicle theft.

Of those, 180 were charged with burglary, a crime that carries a longer punishment.

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