Burnt out car at Blacks Beach Park.
Burnt out car at Blacks Beach Park. Caitlan Charles

Mackay ranks in Australia's top 50 car theft locations

HUNDREDS of car thefts have cemented Mackay's place among the Top 50 communities for the number of vehicle thefts committed.

National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council data shows there were 320 "short-term" thefts in the region in the 2017-18 financial year, placing the region in 13th place on the list of worst communities nationally.

Short-term thefts, according to the NMVTRC, are vehicles stolen "by opportunistic thieves for use in the commission of other crimes, joy-riding, or transport" then found by authorities and returned to their rightful owners.

The statistics show that almost one-third of all short-term thefts were recovered within 24 hours of the vehicle going missing; more than three-quarters within two weeks and 87 per cent within a month.

NMVTRC chief executive Geoff Hughes said about half of all vehicles stolen in Australia were taken from people's homes.

"The top theft targets are generally mainstream vehicles, not luxury cars," Mr Hughes said.

"In most cases these thefts are opportunistic, and our data tells us that more than 70 per cent of late model (post 2001) vehicle thefts occur with offenders having access to the vehicle's key. This is because modern vehicles all have immobilisers as standard equipment and they cannot be stolen without the keys.

"Generally, the thieves are breaking into homes to steal car keys, taking advantage of keys left in accessible locations such as near open doors or windows.

"I want to stress that in the overwhelming majority of cases (95 per cent) there is no confrontation with the homeowner - the thieves are simply entering the home and taking the keys without the owner being aware. Motorists can greatly minimise their risk by simply never leaving keys in plain view of open doors and windows."

There is some good news - most vehicles are recovered.

"We categorise motor vehicle theft by two distinct motivations - short term theft and profit-motivated theft," Mr Hughes said.

"The majority of vehicle theft in Australia is short term theft (72%). Profit-motivated theft is vehicles stolen for conversion to profit either as a whole vehicle or as separated parts through various illegal methods.

Despite concerns the huge number of thefts could push up premiums, RACQ spokeswoman Lucinda Ross said premiums were based on the experience of its policyholders, rather than broader regional figures of theft.

Ms Ross said unfortunately Queensland had again bucked the national trend, with a 12 per cent increase in car thefts.

"In addition to theft likelihood, we consider a range of factors when setting premium levels, like repairs from collisions, spare parts pricing, individual driver history and the make and type of car for Comprehensive Motor insurance," she said.

"We've made repeated calls for the State Government to reinstate funding for the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council, which was set-up to advance reform and cooperation between industry, government and community to lower vehicle crime rates.

"Since exiting the initiative in 2012, we've seen a significant increase in the vehicle theft rate in Queensland."

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