THE number of disabled parking tickets stolen in 2018 rose by almost 50 per cent on the previous year, as more dodgy motorists tried to avoid paying for a space.
But the Government has now launched a task force to crackdown on thieves and fraudsters who misuse Blue Badges.
Most recent figures from the Local Government Association reveal incidents of disabled parking ticket theft hit 4,246 last year, rising from 2,921 in 2017.
Shockingly, the number of people caught abusing the system has significantly jumped in the past five years, with 535 prosecuted for the offence in 2014.
In a bid to stop drivers abusing the system, the Government has formed a task force which will look to improve councils’ ability to catch thieves.
The crackdown will also aim to increase public awareness on who can use a Blue Badge and what do if a pass holder dies.
Motorists who steal a parking badge can be fined up to £1,000, while holders who misuse it or allow another person to misuse it can have it taken away.
Around 2.4million British drivers with a disability use Blue Badges to park free of charge in pay and display bays and on yellow lines for up to three hours.
Motorists who have the ticket are also exempt from paying the congestion charge in London, saving them around £2,500 a year.
The Government announced earlier this week that people with hidden disabilities, such as autism, dementia and mental health conditions, would now qualify for a Blue Badge from August 30.
More parking peeves and facts
Martin Tett, a spokesman for LGA Transport, said: “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.
“Blue Badge theft is clearly a soaring crime and it is alarming that incidents have risen by more than 45 per cent in the past year alone.
“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.”