Almost every day, a type of motor vehicle gets stolen in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines motor vehicle theft as “an incident where a vehicle was stolen from anyone.” In 2016-17, about 54,000 households experienced a form of motor vehicle theft.
Most of the crimes were reported to the police. But even with the vigilance of the homeowners, almost 60% of the theft occurred in their property. About 31% took place in open land or street.
The numbers continued to rise in 2019, with more than 58,000 stolen vehicles all over the country. Victoria had the highest number of car thefts with almost 14,000.
The stats above merely focus on crimes as a household crime rather than those targeting a particular person. In reality, anyone can become a victim – including you.
The Different Types of Motor Vehicle Theft
Thieves have their own reasons why they steal a vehicle. Compared to smaller items, vehicles are difficult to steal. It is why these thieves should not be taken lightly because they are quite brave and often know what to do.
Here are the types of auto theft that these criminals can commit:
1.) Vehicle Identification Number Scams
VINs are serial numbers used to tell another make and model from another. Each vehicle has its own unique VIN, and some thieves know how to switch these numbers to hide a stolen car. This way, they can resell it without the buyer knowing that it was stolen.
Another VIN scam involves “salvage switching,” where they get a damaged or burnt car’s VIN. Then, they use it with a stolen car. A junk shop can sell these damaged, unrecognisable cars, making it easy for thieves to use their VINs.
This type of theft is quite prevalent, not just in Australia but in the rest of the world. Carjacking typically happens because the thief’s sole purpose is to take the car. It can occur even when you are in the car, and the criminal will stop and threaten you until you give up the vehicle. Some also bump the auto from behind, so you get out assessing the damage only to find your car has been taken.
Thieves have become creative over the years. It is your job to stay vigilant, especially when you are driving at night or in a secluded area.
3.) Selling of Parts
Some thieves do not want your car, but only its parts. It may be because parting down a vehicle can be three times more profitable than selling it whole. Auto theft rings exist in many areas of the country, and they are mostly called “chop shops.” The thieves will take the car to these chop shops. Within minutes, the vehicle is disassembled for its valuable parts.
Often, those involved in a joyriding auto theft are young people who will take the car to drive it to their destination. Even if the car is returned, joyriding is still considered a crime. However, it may be less punishable.
Your car, van, motorboat, or truck can be stolen from you, even when it is in your property.
How Do Thieves Steal Your Car?
In Australia, about 37% of auto theft takes place because the car keys are stolen. Thieves will enter a home just to get the car keys. Most people tend to leave the car keys in plain sight – typically near the front door. It is why thieves find it easy to locate them and drive away with the car.
Another common way for thieves to steal a vehicle is if you conveniently leave the keys there. Any criminal will find the situation a great opportunity to take what is not theirs. If you leave the keys in the ignition, for instance, they will quickly jump behind the wheel. Never give them that chance, so you do not end up losing the vehicle. Keep the keys in a safe place if you have to go somewhere. Better yet, take them with you and make sure the car door and windows are locked.
Hot wiring or forced ignition is still a thing. Although it is difficult or even impossible to carry out this tactic on newer models, older cars that do not have immobilisers are quite susceptible.
Other ways that thieves steal cars in Australia include:
- The use of another set of keys: It is possible if the thief finds the VIN and registration of the vehicle.
- Taking the car without permission: It can involve a family member or a work colleague.
- Robbery: A criminal confronts you to get the car keys, which can typically happen during a carjacking.
- Forgery: It involves a fake buyer who gives a forged bank draft or any bogus payment to a car dealer on a late Friday afternoon. This way, the dealer will only discover the fraud on Monday when the banks open.
- Towing: A thief (or a group of thieves) pushes the car that they want to steal. Often, they use a tow truck on a parked vehicle.
When you know how thieves take a car or any vehicle, it becomes easier to protect your assets from getting stolen. However, there are times when being careful is not enough. In such an instance, technology is often a lifesaver.
How Technology Can Help Recover Stolen Vehicles
Stolen vehicle recovery systems are a must for anyone who owns a car, truck, or any type of vehicle. Some systems are designed for homeowners, and others are for businesses. When you have a fleet to manage, it is more convenient to choose vehicle trackers intended for company use.
The differences will depend on the products themselves. For example, this Simply Find Me Lite hard-wired version is a low-cost option for people who want straightforward information on their vehicles. It consists of a tracking device that is installed on the car and will automatically report its location when the vehicle moves more than 250 metres, and then again when the vehicle stops (stationary for more than 5 minutes). In the event that a vehicle is stolen, the owner can trigger the systems recovery mode.
Activating Recovery Mode sends a message to the vehicle to change the rate of tracking increasing updates to every 30 seconds while in motion and every 30 minutes when stationary. The change will be applied when the vehicle next reports a location. Owners can also remotely disable their vehicle.
Another interesting product is this battery-powered version of the mentioned solution above. It is best for automobiles or assets that do not have constant power. Vehicle owners can monitor and locate their parked cars, as well as trailers and other assets.
These GPS systems have helped many owners in tracking and protecting their vehicles. They are typically connected to a smartphone app, which can send alerts whenever something requires immediate attention. You can also switch to email notifications if you do not want to receive repetitive messages.
Back in the day, tracking stolen vehicles was a challenge, if not impossible. Thanks to technology, GPS-enabled recovery systems were introduced. These solutions can help find a missing or stolen vehicle even during an ongoing theft situation.