Vandals have caused £563 million worth of damage in the last year to British cars.

According to the vehicle vandalism report conducted by Direct Line, over 3.5 million drivers have been a victim of car vandalism in the past 12 months and of these close to a third (31%) have had their vehicle defaced twice.

The most common type of damage is the car being keyed (39%), followed by windows being smashed (17%) and wing mirrors being broken (17%). The average cost of repairing the damage is £150 although drivers who claim on their insurance will additionally face paying out an excess and possibly losing their no claims discount.

The research has found that vandals have moved away from areas likely to have CCTV cameras, as the cameras become more common in car parks and town centres, with nearly half of all vandalism incidents (45%) now happening outside the owner’s home on residential streets, compared to only 6% of cases in shopping centre car parks.

Concern about vandalism is a major issue for drivers with almost one in five (19%) saying they wouldn’t even consider buying a prestige-looking car because it would be targeted and six in 10 (62%) reporting a belief in vandalism that it has increased in their area, leading to drivers calling for harsher penalties for the perpetrators.

The majority of drivers (92%) believe offenders should be forced to pay for the damage they’ve caused as this would act as a deterrent to doing it in the future. More than four in ten (41%) drivers believe ASBOs would be a sufficient punishment, and a further quarter (24%) are calling for custodial sentences for vehicle vandals.

Many victims (56%) don’t tell the police about the damage, with nearly two-thirds (64%) stating that it’s simply not worth the hassle of going through the reporting process when there is little chance of the culprit being identified.

Direct Line has identified the top five vandalism hotspots: London tops the list followed by Manchester, Wirral, Edinburgh and then Birmingham.