The theft of Blue Badges has quadrupled in the last five years, council chiefs warn.
More than two million disabled people use Blue Badges for parking in pay and display bays and for up to three hours on yellow lines.
Research from the Local Government Association (LGA) published today has revealed a rise in thefts for the fifth year running.
The figures show that Blue Badge theft went up from 2,556 in 2016 to 2,921 in 2017 — a rise of 14%. Thefts in 2015 were 2,056 which means a rise of 42% over the last two years.
In 2013 only 656 thefts were recorded.
‘Thefts of Blue Badges is clearly a crime on the rise and it is alarming that incidents have risen by more than 40% in just two years,’ said Cllr Martin Tett, LGA Transport spokesman.
‘Illegally using a Blue Badge is not a victimless crime. For disabled people, Blue Badges are a vital lifeline that helps them get out and about to visit shops or family and friends.
‘Callous thieves and unscrupulous fraudsters using them illegally are robbing disabled people of this independence.’
In 2017 there were 1,131 successful council prosecutions against people abusing the scheme — up from 535 in 2014.
‘Despite limited resources, councils continue to work hard to crackdown on this growing crime,’ said Cllr Tett.
‘More Blue Badge fraudsters than ever are being brought to justice by councils who will come down hard on drivers illegally using them.
‘It is important to catch these criminals in the act.
‘To help councils win the fight against Blue Badge fraud, residents must keep tipping us off about people they suspect are illegally using a badge, bearing in mind people’s need for a badge might not be obvious.’