Vehicle thefts have risen by 30% in the last three years following a decade of decline, RAC figures suggest.
Almost 86,000 vehicles were stolen in 2016, up from about 66,000 in 2013, according to the motoring group.
The RAC believes thieves are getting better at beating modern security systems by using new technology.
RAC insurance director Mark Godfrey said the increase reverses a general trend of a fall in vehicle thefts since around 2002.
“We fear thieves are now becoming more and more well equipped with technology capable of defeating car manufacturers’ anti-theft systems,” he said.
The RAC obtained the figures from 40 police forces in England and Wales, which revealed that 85,688 vehicles were stolen last year – up 30% from 65,783 in 2013.
London was the worst place for vehicle theft with nearly a third being taken from the capital, followed by the West Midlands, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
Police in Warwickshire reported the largest percentage rise in stolen vehicles from 2013 to 2016 – up 189%.
Mr Godfrey said the statistics were “bad news” for motorists as the increase causes insurance premiums to rise.
Old fashioned anti-theft devices such as steering-wheel locks were making a comeback because they are a “visible deterrent”, he added.