Experts say organised gangs are stealing expensive cars to order and are increasingly using computers to bypass electronic security systems after breaking into vehicles.
Drivers of the country’s most stolen car – the Audi S3 – are running an almost one in 100 risk of having it taken by thieves, the figures show.
According to the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, over 75,600 cars were stolen in England and Wales last year.
That is 9% more than during 2014 and represents the first increase since the 1990s.
The figures show the theft rate for the Audi S3 was 8.6 per 1,000 on the road during 2015.
The theft rates for the Land Rover Defender and Land Rover Range Rover, meanwhile, were 5.8 and 3.8 per 1,000 vehicles respectively, making them the country’s second and third most stolen cars last year.
Steve Launchbury, a vehicle crime engineer at Thatcham Research, says many are being stolen by organised gangs with specialist high-tech tools rather than by opportunist thieves. Many of the stolen cars, he adds, are taken out of the UK and sold overseas.
According to the figures, the nation’s top 10 stolen cars last year also included Audi’s Q7 and A5, BMW’s X5 and 5 Series, the Ford Escort, Mitsubishi Shogun and Toyota Hilux.
Police say many luxury cars are being taken by thieves who have used technology to outsmart immobilisers or devices that have enabled them to drive them away after downloading electronic information on to blank keys.
The digital editor-in-chief of Parkers and Car magazine, Tim Pollard, says manufacturers are taking vehicle security seriously but are struggling to stay ahead of increasingly sophisticated thieves.
Motorists are advised to make sure they never leave their keys in an unattended vehicle or in a spot at home where they can be reached through the letterbox.
Cars, the police say, should be left locked and with the windows closed in a garage or area covered by CCTV or, if that is not possible, in places that are open and well illuminated.
Alarms, immobilisers and steering wheel and gearstick locks can also be fitted to deter thieves.
Drivers, the police add, should also think about installing an on-board diagnostics lock and a tracker system to increase the likelihood of a car being recovered if it’s stolen.