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Van Thefts (797A/22)


Could you send me the following data available in your area on the following points, with figures broken down by year to cover the period May 2019 to May 2021 inclusive:

  1. Please could you provide statistics for the total number of recorded vans/light commercial vehicles stolen
  2. The total number of recorded incidents of contents theft from vans/light commercial vehicles
  3. Any specific locations (streets / postcodes) where majority of the above-mentioned crimes or offences have been reported
  4. Additionally, please could you share statistics on the total value of the items stolen either collectively, or per van/light commercial vehicle


Q4 – Property value is not a mandatory recording field on our crime systems (in over 90% of cases, a nominal figure of £0 or £1 has been recorded), therefore we are unable to provide this information.

Q3 – Our data are not organised in such a way as to allow us to provide this information within the appropriate (cost) limit within the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act (see ‘Reason for Decision’ below).

However, although excess cost removes the force’s obligations under the Freedom of Information Act, as a gesture of goodwill I have supplied information, relative to your request, retrieved before it was realised that the fees limit would be exceeded (see attached file 797A_22_attachment.pdf). I trust this is helpful, but it does not affect our legal right to rely on the fees regulations for the remainder of the request.

Please note that these data should be interpreted with caution. Comparing numbers of incidents/crimes can be misleading and does not necessarily indicate the likelihood of someone being a victim of crime. In addition, the number of incidents/crimes recorded in an area over a period of time can be influenced by a number of factors. Consequently statistics on incidents/crimes for one period may not necessarily be a good indicator of future incidents in that area.

Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from a number of data sources used by forces for police purposes. The detail collected to respond specifically to your request is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when interpreting those data.

The figures provided therefore are our best interpretation of relevance of data to your request, but you should be aware that the collation of figures for ad hoc requests may have limitations and this should be taken into account when those data are used.

If you decide to write an article / use the enclosed data we would ask you to take into consideration the factors highlighted in this document so as to not mislead members of the public or official bodies, or misrepresent the relevance of the whole or any part of this disclosed material.


Due to a major system change, it is not currently possible to provide information with regard to the locations where the majority of van theft offences occurred, without undertaking a manual trawl of cases. However, due to the large number of records that would need to be reviewed, such a search would exceed the appropriate limit (FOIA, s.12).

This means that the cost of compliance with the whole of your request is above the amount to which we are legally required to respond, i.e. the cost of locating and retrieving the information would exceed the appropriate costs limit under section 12(1) of the FOI Act 2000. For West Midlands Police, the appropriate limit is set at £450, as prescribed by the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, S.I. 3244.

Further information on section 12 of FOI is available here: