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East Anglia revealed as the UK’s ‘stolen for sale’ car crime hot spot

HPI urges used car buyers to protect themselves from losing the car and the money they paid for it

Nearly 15,000 stolen cars being offered for sale were uncovered by vehicle history check expert, HPI, in 2015.  The latest figures from HPI reveal that East Anglia and London were the two regions where the greatest number of stolen cars were discovered by buyers who conducted an HPI Check®.  Scotland, North East England and Northern Ireland are where the least stolen cars were offered for sale.

Within East Anglia, Norfolk and Suffolk harboured the most stolen vehicles for sale, with South West London and Middlesex, being London’s hotspots.  Cambridge and Essex, both in East Anglia, also showed a higher propensity of stolen vehicles for sale than other areas across the UK.  Interestingly, Cambridge did not appear as an area of concern in 2014, but replaces Avon in HPI’s 2015 analysis.

“Consumers simply do not realise that if they unwittingly buy a stolen car that is later proven to be recorded as stolen with the police, they stand to lose both the car and their money,” says Philip Nothard, cap hpi consumer and retail editor.  “Once a vehicle is revealed as stolen, it will be returned to its rightful owner, whether that’s the previous owner or the insurance company that paid out a claim on it, leaving the victim with no car and, potentially, thousands of pounds out of pocket.”

HPI’s analysis of 76 areas across the UK (where the majority of vehicle history checks were conducted in 2015*) reports that Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Midlands, Tyne & Wear, Belfast, Wiltshire and Devon had the least number of stolen cars advertised for sale.

To help buyers radically reduce the risk of falling foul of car thieves, HPI offers four simple, but highly effective rules consumers should apply when buying privately.

One…  Buyers must always make sure they view the car at the registered keepers address (as shown on the V5C/logbook). Buyers should ensure all the VIN/chassis numbers on the vehicle match each other and then use the HPI Check to ensure they tally with the details as recorded with the DVLA.

Two… Know the car’s market value. If they are paying less than 70% of the market price for a vehicle, then they should be on their guard. There is rarely such a thing as a bargain and no genuine seller will want to lose money on their sale.

Three… Don’t pay with cash, particularly if the car is costing more than £3,000. Some criminals will take a bankers draft as part payment, because the cash part is sufficient profit without ever cashing the bankers draft.  Most crooks selling stolen cars would rather walk away from a sale than take a payment that could be traced back to them. Despite strong advice to buyers to pay via the banking system, HPI still hears of many buyers who go on to pay in cash and subsequently find out that the car is stolen, and that they’ve lost both their money and the vehicle.

Four… Check the vehicle’s V5C/logbook. Stolen V5C documents are still being used to accompany stolen vehicles.  As an added security measure, the HPI Check continues to include a unique stolen V5C document check as standard.  This will confirm whether or not the document is one that the DVLA have recorded as stolen.

Philip Nothard concludes, “Our analysis shows where in the UK used car buyers should take extra care, however, we’d recommend a vehicle history check before you buy, wherever you are in the UK. By visiting, buyers can find out if that dream machine has something to hide, including whether it’s been recorded as stolen. There is no way to detect a stolen car with the naked eye and buying blind just isn’t worth the risk.”

The HPI Check also includes a mileage check against the National Mileage Register as standard, with over 200 million mileage readings. HPI also confirms whether a vehicle has outstanding finance against it or has been written off by an insurer.  With more than 80 valuable data points, the HPI Check the best way for consumers to protect themselves from fraudsters looking to make a fast profit.


2015 Regions
  1. East Anglia
  2. London
  3. North West England
  4. Midlands
  5. South East England
  6. Wales
  7. South West England
  8. South Central England
  9. Scotland
  10. North East England
  11. Northern Ireland


2015 Top 6 Sub-Regions  (76 sub-regions analysed)
  1. Norfolk, East Anglia
  2. South West London, London
  3. = Suffolk, East Anglia

= Middlesex, London
4.= Cambridge East Anglia
= Essex, East Anglia
Sub-regions where the fewest stolen cars were offered for sale include:

  • Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Nottinghamshire in the Midlands
  • Tyne & Wear in the North East
  • Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • Wiltshire, South Central
  • Devon, South West