Claims managers and police discussed how they will put the brakes on vehicle crime at a crime concern forum attended by the Princess Royal.

Princess Anne, the president of the Patrons of Crime Concern, told delegates that contrary to common perceptions, theft and damage to vehicles was not a victimless crime.

“It's tempting to write off vehicle crime as an impersonal crime, and think that only the insurer is interested, but it affects lives directly,” she said.

“It costs everybody, not just insurers, probably around £3.5bn in increased insurance premiums and costs to the criminal justice system every year.”

The forum was held to facilitate the exchange of ideas between police, local authorities, the vehicle industry and insurers and to publicise the work of Crime Concern.

The charity has already run pilot projects in Birmingham and Leeds, with the cooperation of local police and councils, which, for their duration, have cut crime rates dramatically.

At present, Birmingham is the number one car crime hotspot outside the M25, followed by Gateshead and Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow.

The forum was attended by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), Zenith Insurance, Norwich Union, Zurich Financial Services, Corinthian Insurance and Churchill Insurance.

ABI motor manager Penny Coombs, who also sits on the Home Office's Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Team, said vehicle theft costs the insurance industry £400m each year in claims.

She said, although car crime had dropped in the past five years, it affected other forms of insurance.

“The big concern that's emerged today is the theft of keys from vehicles, which means thieves can also steal your video, jewellery and credit cards as well,” Coombs said. “We're frustrated that many police don't talk to other police districts so days like today are also very helpful.”

The chance to talk directly to police officers was an incentive mentioned by other insurance representatives, as was the opportunity to work on something that benefited the community.