General News

19 July, 2022

Car thefts spiral to record levels

MAREEBA is on track to set an unprecedented record for the number of stolen vehicles over a 12-month period, with latest data revealing vehicle thefts have quadrupled over the past six years.

By Rhys Thomas

Car thefts spiral to record levels - feature photo

Queensland Police statistics show that in 2016, 19 offences were recorded for unlawful use of a motor vehicle, compared to 73 in 2021. 

Despite newer and more secure cars, better home security and the public being better informed about keeping their car keys secured, the rate continues to rise with 47 charges recorded for Mareeba already this year. 

Mareeba Police Station officer-in-charge Derek Garner urged locals to find better, more secure places to store their car keys besides the kitchen bench or bedside table. 

“The bottom line is that you need car keys to steal a car these days so people need to commit a break-in as well, but there are more car thefts going on,” he said. 

Sergeant Garner attributes the rise to the growing number of offenders involved and the use of social media to brag about their crimes. 

“It is an increasing trend in youth and it was something that was on the horizon 10-12 years ago – the demographic for this offending type was a big group coming through and I think we are seeing that eventuate,” he said.

“The simple fact is that a small number of youth offenders were committing a large number of crimes – the rate of offending a number of years ago is not as high as it is now so that core group of offenders has increased in size.” 

Sgt Garner says just a small increase in the size of the offending group can cause an exponential rise in the number of offences. 

“Say for instance you have one person who is committing 20 offences, if that simply increases to two people of the same capability, you have got 40 offences,” he said. 

The prevalence of social media has had an influence on the rising number of stolen vehicles as offending youth aim for more “prestigious” cars and turn to social media to brag about their exploits.

“There is a practice these days to steal cars that are seen as prestigious and they do use social media a lot,” he said. 

“The use of social media for that purpose by these groups creates competitiveness amongst them and I do not think the interaction in social media that way helps the cause at all. 

“They are trying to get that acknowledgement amongst each other and those bragging rights.” 

The increase in stolen vehicles is being reflected in the number of vehicles being worked on by panel beaters and car repair shops.

ASR Collision Specialist North Cairns estimator Nathan Davey is appalled at the sheer number of stolen vehicles that have been towed into the shop recently. 

“More than 50 per cent of towed in vehicles are stolen vehicles compared to 10-15 per cent just 12 months ago – 90 per cent of these stolen vehicles have been stolen by under-age children,” he said. 

“There was one case where a client of one of the stolen vehicles followed the perpetrators through the juvenile court system and each of the four occupants received a maximum of 20 hours community service.” 

The Mareeba community’s frustrations with the rising crime trend culminated in the Mareeba Crime Action Group hosting a public rally last year, with hundreds of people attending the event and unanimously voting on resolutions to address crime.

Group spokesperson Barry Simpson said the resolutions had been ignored while the State’s strategies continued to fail.

“The growth in crime over time has proved strategies that have been adopted are not effective and, in fact, they are grossly ineffective,” Mr Simpson said.

“These statistics show their strategies are failing dismally, there is a lack of leadership at both the local and state government levels. “The police often say ‘we know who they are’, so why are they (the offenders) still doing it?”


Most Popular