Thefts of parking permits for disabled motorists have increased by 45 per cent in the past 12 months, official figures show.
The Department for Transport revealed that 4,246 blue badges were reported stolen in England in 2017/18, compared with 2,921 in 2016.
The number of blue badge thefts has reached the highest since records began in 2008/09.
In England, around 2.4 million motorists hold a blue badge, which allows them to park free of charge in pay and display bays, and for up to three hours on yellow lines.
- Read more: Disabled children are ‘always at the bottom of the greasy pole of priorities’, says disability campaigner
- Read more: Co-vice chair of Disability Labour: 'It's not Brexit that I fear, it's the Tory government'
London motorists who hold the council-issued badges are exempt from the city's congestion charge.
Martin Tett, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, representing councils, said the permits were a "vital lifeline" that help disabled people visit shops or family and friends.
"Callous thieves and unscrupulous fraudsters using them illegally are robbing disabled people of this independence," he said.
Earlier this year, the Department for Transport announced it would allow people with "hidden disabilities" such as mental health issues to apply for blue badges.