Sunday, October 4, 1998 Published at 06:13 GMT 07:13 UK
Arson attacks spiral
Death and damage: The cost of car fires
Malicious car fires claim about 20 lives and cause £77m worth of damage every year, a report estimates.
The last 10 years have seen a 250% increase in the number of fires deliberately started across Britain, according to research by the Arson Prevention Bureau.
One in every 12 stolen vehicles was set on fire and burnt out, compared to a rate of one in 33 in 1986.
Every day in the UK 130 cars are deliberately set on fire. In 1996, 21 people were killed and 122 were seriously injured as a result of car arson attacks.
Metropolitan areas show the highest rate of such fires, with Tyneside scoring the highest - 544 fires for every 100,000 cars.
The lowest rate was in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland where there were 11 fires per 100,000 cars.
APB spokesman Tony Baker stressed the important role that motorists can play in tackling the problem.
He said: "With the big increase in the proportion of stolen cars being set on fire, greater security awareness by all motorists will not only reduce the number of cars stolen but also help bring about a significant reduction in car fires."