Thefts from lorries increased by 6.3% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018 with 454 reported incidents, according to a new crime report.

The state of security in the UK is laid bare in figures from the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NAVCIS) and supply chain intelligence BSI Group covering January, February and March.

The report found Nottinghamshire was the country’s number one crime hotspot in the period. There companies lost £1.1m of goods after thefts in the county during the first quarter. This equated to 16% of the total national thefts recorded during the first quarter.

The total number of incidents resulted in £13m of goods being lost during the first three months of 2018.

The report said 80% of the 454 incidents were related to cargo theft, with the remaining 20% linked to fuel theft, vehicle parts and personal belongings.

Most crime occurs in the centre and eastern locations of the UK, with Northamptonshire, Kent, Leicestershire and Bedfordshire making up the top five counties for cargo theft.

The report added that Toddington rest area in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, saw the highest number of thefts during the first part of the year.

“This is largely due to insufficient security at this rest area, which lacks fencing and a separation of cargo and passenger vehicles at lots,” it said.

“Rest areas on the M62 and M40 motorways were the second and third most common locations of thefts on highways, respectively.”

The M1 was identified as the top highway route for cargo theft incidents, with around 66 incidents occurring along the route in the first quarter.

Other high risk highways are the A421 and the M62, as well as the A1, A43 and M2.

Most thefts occurred during the middle of the week, particularly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with incidents on these days accounting for 45% of all events.

The least number of incidents occurred on a Saturday.

The report said that although thieves occasionally relied on sophisticated, or even violent, methods to steal goods, the most frequent tactic was ‘slash and grab’, with 63% of all incidents involving the cutting of tarpaulins and soft-sided lorries.

The NAVCIS/BSI report acknowledged that using motorway services did not guarantee safety for truck drivers, but it added: “There locations are generally lit and populated with other transporters, leaving trucks slightly less vulnerable than insecure off-road sites which leave trucks completely exposed to cargo criminals.”

The government has promised to provide more lorry parking to address a current space crisis.

The DfT said the UK was the third worst country in the EU for cargo thefts and that, following a recent survey, 39% of vehicles were found to be parking in lay-bys, industrial estates and retail parks.

It also found that the East Midlands had the most vehicles parked ‘off-site’ and just 21% of lorry parking facilities in England provided security features.