Shocking new figures have revealed a “vehicle crime epidemic,” with over 140,000 car and bike thefts going unsolved by police last year.

More than three quarters of car theft cases (77,318) and nine in ten bike thefts (63,481) were closed without a suspect being identified.

The Liberal Democrats said the figures showed the Conservatives were soft on crime and are letting criminals get away with stealing vehicles on an “industrial scale.” The party is calling for more investment in community policing, ahead of the local elections on Thursday.

The figures also show a dramatic fall in the proportion of vehicle theft cases resulting in criminals being charged. Only 1.8 per cent of bicycle thefts in 2021 led to someone being charged, down from 2.5 per cent in 2017. Meanwhile just 3.9 per cent of car thefts led to someone being charged, down from 6.8 per cent five years ago.

The analysis of new Home Office statistics by the Liberal Democrats finds that over the past five years, a total of 806,288 vehicle theft cases have been closed by the police without a suspect being identified.

West Midlands Police and the Metropolitan Police were the worst forces for solving car thefts, with 89 per cent of cases unsolved last year. The two forces were joined by Sussex Police for the highest rate of unsolved bike thefts, at 95 per cent.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said in light of the new statistics: “These shocking figures show criminals are getting away with stealing cars and bikes on an industrial scale. It is a vehicle theft epidemic that is blighting communities around the country.

“It shows the Conservatives are soft on crime and soft on criminals.

“The Liberal Democrats are calling for a return to proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and focused on cutting crime. The government should give forces the resources they need to make sure that every crime is investigated.

“We must reverse years of Conservative neglect that have made our communities less safe and let far too many criminals get away with it.”

The party say there must be a return to community policing, where officers are more visible, trusted and known personally to local people.

They also urge a reverse to youth service cuts by investing an extra £500 million a year via a ring-fenced fund to Local Authorities

The Lib Dems also say police and crime Commissioners ought to be scrapped and the £50 million savings to invest in frontline policing and solving crimes.

Politics.co.uk has reached out to the Home Office for comment.