There were 117 disabled parking permit thefts in Hertfordshire last year, including 38 in Watford, fuelling fears that police cannot tackle the problem.

The town was targeted more than any other, and for 97 per cent of those reports the case was closed with no suspect identified.

Related data for convictions are not held by the force, a spokesperson said, following a Freedom of Information request.

Disability Watford, an advocacy charity run by and for people with disabilities, said it had been contacted by members over the issue.

A spokesperson said: “The theft of a badge may seem a minor offence to some, but the loss of a Blue Badge causes problems for many weeks. 

“From the cost and time to sort out the damage to the vehicle, the person still has to deal with crime numbers and apply for a replacement badge.

Watford Observer: A Disability Watford spokesperson said the thefts can cause problems for weeks.A Disability Watford spokesperson said the thefts can cause problems for weeks. (Image: Jakub Pabis/ Pexels)

“The person with the disability apart from the emotional upset could be without transport and housebound for weeks.”

The charity raised concerns that policing constraints meant officers do not have time to check blue badges in use are legitimate, while the penalties may not be strong enough to deter offenders.

“There is no clear way of stopping this offence,” it added.

A Herts Police spokesperson said: "We know these permits are a lifeline for those with reduced or limited mobility and without one, it can sometimes be impossible for them to carry out their day-to-day activities.

“While it can sometimes be a challenge to investigate thefts when there are no witnesses and limited CCTV or forensic opportunities, we will continue to work alongside the council to both combat and convict offenders.”

They also encouraged victims to report thefts to obtain crime numbers so they can apply for a replacement badge, while urging drivers to only display it when needed.

Across the year, December saw the most thefts as 20 were reported in the county, while only three were stolen in May.

Watford was the most hit town overall in 2023, but there were also 18 taken in Hertsmere, seven in Dacorum and four in Three Rivers.

No suspects were identified in Three Rivers or Dacorum, while in Hertsmere, one suspect was identified but the victim did not support further police action.