Almost 240,000 vehicles were broken into during 2016.

More than half of police forces in England, Scotland and Wales saw the number of vehicle break-ins rise during 2016, according to new figures.

Almost 240,000 vehicles were broken into during the 12-month period – an increase of around 8,700 (four percent) on 2015’s figures.

Data gathered from a freedom of information request by RAC Insurance showed that the City of London saw the largest rise in break-ins, with reports of the crime up 76 percent, although the total number of break-ins was still fewer than 100.

Northamptonshire Police revealed the second-highest increase, with the 4,043 incidents reported representing a 41 percent increase, while Wiltshire and Dyfed-Powys jointly recorded the third-largest increase at 23 percent.

London, meanwhile, may have recorded a mere three percent increase in break-ins, but the Metropolitan Police’s 51,691 incidents remains by far the most of any force.

In comparison, the second-highest figure was found in the West Midlands, were 18,396 incidents were recorded, while Greater Manchester followed closely with 15,959.

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The news isn’t all bad, though, as the 2016 figures represent a nine percent reduction on the 263,500 break-ins reported during 2013, and several forces reported a fall in reports.

For example, Greater Manchester’s total may have been high, but it was two percent lower than 2015’s figure, while the biggest drop in break-ins was seen in neighbouring Cheshire, where the 2,284 incidents reported represented a 19 percent decrease.

RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey, though, said the recent increase was still a worry.

‘Even though police data shows the number of thefts from vehicles has fallen by nine percent in the three years from 2013, it is very worrying to see that more than half of British police forces have witnessed a rise in this type of crime from 2015 to 2016,’ he said.

‘Breaking into cars to steal things causes motorists no end of headaches. Not only do they lose and have to try to replace their valued possessions, but most will have to make an insurance claim to get their car repaired. While this can be a time-consuming and stressful process in itself, its effects will unfortunately be felt for years to come with increased annual premiums and having to declare the claim for three years whenever arranging a new car insurance policy.

Godfrey also said motorists should be aware of the risk of break-ins and take precautions to avoid them.

‘The old advice of making sure nothing of value is left on display inside a car is still as valid as ever, but it is also important when parking in public places to try to opt for well-lit and well used spots so as to make it harder for criminals to break in without being seen,’ he advised.

‘Anyone unlucky enough to suffer a vehicle break-in should report it to the police as soon as possible and obtain a crime reference number which will assist with the subsequent insurance claim.’