THEFTS of vehicles in Hampshire have more than doubled in the las four years, new research has revealed.

Between 2018 and 2019, Hampshire Police dealt with a total of 1,504 stolen vehicle reports according to figures obtained by RAC Insurance.

This is an increase of 112 per cent when compared to the 711 cases the Force dealt with in 2014 to 2015.

It was among the biggest increases recorded by the 41 police forces that responded to the Freedom of Information request.

The figures have been described as "disturbing" by insurance bosses.

Nationally, 152,541 vehicles were stolen in 2018-19 - a rise of 56 per cent when compared to the figures in 2014-15.

All but three police forces in the UK recorded an increase of thefts during this period.

RAC Insurance spokesman Simon Williams said: “These figures paint a rather disturbing picture. Vehicle thefts are on the rise almost everywhere, and in some parts of the country numbers are rocketing.

“It’s also not the case that the rises in crime are confined to a few larger urban areas, with many police forces covering more rural areas also seeing big increases.

“While vehicle crime is at far lower levels today than it was in the early 1990s thanks to improvements in vehicle security, and the number of vehicles licensed to be driven on the UK’s roads is higher than at any point in the past, it’s still concerning that so many more vehicles are being stolen than just a few years ago.”

MP for Southampton Test Alan Whitehead said: “I am aware of the increase in car theft and indeed car related theft, break ins and so on.

“This is an issue that is regularly raised by residents, both to me and local councillors who are in regular contact with the police.

“Unfortunately crime across the board has been on the rise over the last few years and I have raised the issue of cuts to policing capacity in parliament a number of times.

"Locally I will keep raising this issue with the police and nationally I will keep raising the issue of police cuts.”

Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen added: "The amount of car theft is indeed shocking and it is evident from these figures that thieves have become more accomplished.

"Of course the police have a role to play but that is only after the event.

"I would advise people where possible to use anti theft devices and park their vehicles in well lit areas or in a garage.”

The Daily Echo contacted Hampshire Police for a comment on the rise in figures but they did not respond.