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Car thefts in Australia have steadily increased

A vehicle is stolen once every 11 minutes in Australia.

While advances in technology have made it impossible to ‘hot wire’ a car nowadays, older car owners should be vigilant when it comes to their cars as the median age of stolen cars is ten years old.

In a publication released by Car Safe, it was determined that in 2019/2020, car thefts went up by 2% (56,312 compared to 55,222).

New South Wales, the Northern Territory Tasmania and Western Australia have seen declines in car thefts while Queensland, the ACT, Victoria and South Australia have seen increases.

The most stolen light commercial vehicle was Toyota’s Hilux with its 2005-2011 models being the most targeted with 636 thefts. The Hilux 2012-2015 models saw 443 thefts while models from 2015 onwards have seen 412 thefts.

The Hilux’s primary rival, the Ford Ranger, saw 441 thefts of the 2011 and onwards models.


Where are the cars being stolen from?

There has been a steady increase in recent years of motor vehicles being taken from residential locations.

In 2019/2020, 54% of thefts occurred at a residential location (garage, driveway or carport), in 2018/2019 it was 53%.

Second to residential thefts were street thefts with 23.6%, up from 23.2% in the previous year.

How are cars being stolen?

Roughly 70% of cars are stolen with their own keys.

Many times, offenders will sneak into a home by taking advantage of unlocked windows and doors. In most instances, 95% of the time, the thief will not come into contact with the homeowner/resident.

Why are they being taken?

Car theft is split into two groups: short-term theft and profit-motivated theft.

Short-term theft is defined as a vehicle being taken for opportunistic purposes and not for their value. Many a time it will be used in the commission of other crimes, transport or joyriding.

Overall, 31% of all short-term thefts were recovered within 24 hours of the theft while 78% were recovered within 14 days and 87% were recovered within 30 days of the incident.

Profit-motivated theft is classified as cars being stolen for an exchange to profit either as a whole vehicle or as separated car parts through illegal methods.

This type of theft accounted for 27% of all vehicle thefts in Australia, a 5% increase from 2018/2019.


How to protect yourself and your car?

As 70% of thefts are taken with the owner’s key, the best preventative measure is to put your keys out of sight. Avoid placing them on a table, bench or key hook. The same can be said for the spare key; definitely don’t place the spare key in the car.

Lock all doors and windows within the house and ensure that other members of the household do the same to prevent thieves having an easy way in.

Avoid leaving valuables in the car and keys in the ignition.

As the average age the stolen cars is ten years old, fitting an after-market engine immobiliser should be a considered option so that you can prevent it from being hotwired.

It’s also best to remove valuables from the vehicle and park in safer spots. As always, protect your keys, as if a thief has access to them, an engine immobiliser will not prevent them from driving away with it.

On the upside, due to the restrictions in place as a result of COVID-19, car theft declined during the months of March through to June.

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