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Vehicle theft falls to 21-year low

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The number of vehicles stolen across the country declined  24%  to 45,702  in the 12 months to March from a year earlier, its lowest level since January 2000, new figures from the  National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council  show.

Theft volumes  fell  in all states and territories, with the declines ranging from 7-34%.

CEO Geoff Hughes says measures to limit public movements for most of last year during the pandemic “have had a dramatic effect” on theft rates.

“Almost certainly more than half and closer to 70% of vehicles were stolen with their own key, preceded by a residential burglary,” he told “So there’s no doubt that the fact that people are working remotely from home has had a significant dampening effect.

“The nature of these thieves, which we call sneak thefts, are about getting in and out undetected quickly. And obviously that's far easier if the homes are unoccupied.”

He says before the pandemic broke out in March, the council had projected thefts would exceed 60,000 for the first time in more than a decade.

WA and SA registered the  biggest  falls of 34% and 32% respectively during the year to March 31 while the ACT posted the smallest, at 7%.  In Victoria the theft rate fell 28%, Queensland 21% and NSW 16%.  Thefts in Tasmania dropped 22% and the NT 20%.

Theft numbers also went down across all vehicle classifications. Motorcycles dropped 26%  as did heavy/other vehicles while passenger and light commercial vehicles fell a combined  23%.

Profit-motivated thefts –  which refers to stolen units  that are never recovered –  decreased 24% for motorcycles, 23% for passenger and light commercial vehicles and 18% for heavy/other vehicles.

Short-term theft of heavy/other vehicles fell 33%, motorcycles 28% and passenger and light commercial vehicles 23%.

The Holden Commodore VE  was the top target for thieves, with 884 stolen during the period.