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Understanding the Link between Home Burglaries

and Vehicle Theft in the Top End

Published: June 2018

In late 2016, the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC) introduced a new sub-program, ‘Better Data Utilisation’, to reflect the importance of optimising the tactical utility of the NMVTRC’s considerable data holdings to police and other stakeholders. Research in Australia and other countries suggests that the theft of immobilised vehicles is most often preceded by the thief gaining access to the vehicle’s transponder key. In many ways the Northern Territory (NT) represents a unique consumer market in respect of its remoteness, climate, built environment and resident lifestyle. NT Police subsequently expressed an interest in undertaking a ‘deep analysis’ of local thefts to confirm the relationship between residential burglaries and vehicle crime.

Methodology

This study involved reviewing the NT motor vehicle theft data from the PROMIS system during the 12 month period from 01/04/2016 to 31/03/2017.

In this time period, there were 1,150 vehicle thefts of which 55 were found to be theft of non-motorised vehicles, therefore the analysis for the study was based on 1,095 stolen motor vehicles.

We wish to thank the NT Police and Ms Preetha Sunny for their assistance and contribution to this research.

Findings

Of the 1,095* motor vehicle thefts, more than one in three (392, 36%) were reported as residential unlawful entry with intent (UEWI) and 8% (83) were commercial UEWI with the remaining 57% of vehicle thefts (621) taken by other means such as stolen from the street, carpark, shopping centres etc. (termed non-UEWI).

Characteristics of vehicles stolen:

  • Of the 1,095 motor vehicles stolen, passenger/light commercial vehicles (PLCs) made up 88% (960), 10% were motorcycles (110) and 2% (25) heavy/other vehicles.
  • Amongst all the 960 passenger/light commercial vehicles stolen,
    • Three in ten were light commercial utilities (29%) followed by one quarter being SUVs (24%) and a further quarter being small passenger vehicles (23%).
    • One quarter (26%) of PLCs stolen were valued under $5,000 and a further quarter (25%) were valued between $10,000 and $20,000.
    • Almost half (47%) of all PLCs stolen were under $10,000 with three in five (61%) profit motivated PLCs stolen under $10,000.
    • Eight in ten (82%) had an Australian Standard (AS) immobiliser. Vehicles with an AS immobiliser cannot be stolen without the keys and therefore thieves are targeting residential or commercial properties to gain access to the car keys.
    • The total value of all PLCs stolen were $14.3 million.

Vehicle characteristics based on the theft location type:

  • Almost all (97%) of the vehicles stolen in residential UEWI were PLCs and almost nine in ten (88%) were PLCs in commercial UEWI. Nine in ten (91%) of PLC thefts from a residential UEWI had an AS immobiliser and among PLC thefts from commercial UEWI, 81% had an AS immobiliser.
  • A large proportion of all non-UEWI thefts were recovered (81%) however the recovery rate was much higher for thefts from a commercial UEWI (92%) and even higher for thefts from a residential UEWI (94%).
  • More than one quarter (27%) of thefts from a residential UEWI were small passenger vehicles with an average vehicle value of $9,377 and a further 25% were SUVs with an average vehicle value of $23,142 (Figure 1a and Table 1).
  • On the other hand, more than half (55%) of vehicles stolen in commercial UEWI were light commercial utilities with an average vehicle value of $20,093 and a further 22% were SUVs with an average vehicle value of $25,935 (Figure 1b and Table 2).
  • Thefts from a residential or commercial UEWI both had higher average vehicle values than non-UEWI and 30% of thefts from non-UEWI were light commercial utilities with an average value of $14,216 (Table 3).

Figure 1a and 1b. A comparison of the % of PLC thefts and the % of the Glass’s value for residential and commercial UEWI
Market Segment Number of PLC thefts % of PLC thefts Sum of Glass's value estimate % of Glass's value estimate Average value
Small passenger 104 27.3% $975,172 16.3% $9,377
SUV 94 24.7% $2,175,308 36.3% $23,142
Light commercial ute 90 23.6% $1,677,320 28.0% $18,637
Medium passenger 40 10.5% $423,884 7.1% $10,597
Large passenger 37 9.7% $383,493 6.4% $10,365
Sports 10 2.6% $292,462 4.9% $29,246
Light commercial van 5 1.3% $49,693 0.8% $9,939
People mover 1 0.3% $11,300 0.2% $11,300
Grand Total 381 100.0% $5,988,632 100.0% $15,718
Market Segment Number of PLC thefts % of PLC thefts Sum of Glass's value estimate % of Glass's value estimate Average value
Light commercial ute 40 54.8% $803,729 54.5% $20,093
SUV 16 21.9% $414,960 28.2% $25,935
Small passenger 9 12.3% $132,150 9.0% $14,683
Large passenger 2 2.7% $29,440 2.0% $14,720
Light commercial van 2 2.7% $24,833 1.7% $12,417
Medium passenger 2 2.7% $36,370 2.5% $18,185
People mover 1 1.$% $19,408 1.3% $19,408
Sports 1 1.4% $12,621 0.9% $12,621
Grand Total 73 100.0% $1,473,512 100.0% $20,185
Market Segment Number of PLC thefts % of PLC thefts Sum of Glass's value estimate % of Glass's value estimate Average value
Light commercial ute 150 29.6% $2,132,384 31.1% $14,216
SUV 120 23.7% $2,269,996 33.1% $18,917
Small passenger 109 21.5% $1,215,801 17.7% $11,154
Large passenger 71 14.0% $566,196 8.3% $7,975
Medium passenger 33 6.5% $376,632 5.5% $11,413
Light commercial van 9 1.8% $143,931 2.1% $13,681
Sports 8 1.6% $109,449 1.6% $15,992
People mover 7 1.4% $42,387 0.6% $15,992
Grand Total 507 100.0% $6,856,778 100.0% $13,524
  • More than one-third (37%) of motor vehicles stolen from a commercial UEWI were under 4 years of age. This was a much greater proportion than that found in motor vehicle thefts from residential UEWI (27%) as well as non-UEWI (25%) (Figure 2)
  • Vehicles stolen during commercial UEWI had slightly higher average vehicle values than those stolen in residential UEWI which in turn had slightly higher average vehicle values than non-UEWI thefts (Figure 2 and Figure 3).
  • Over half (55%) of all PLC thefts were valued less than $10,000, compared with two fifths (40%) of PLCs stolen in residential UEWI and one quarter (27%) of PLC thefts in commercial UEWI (Figure 3, Table 4 and Table 5).
  • The total PLC value of vehicles stolen from residential UEWI was almost $6 million and $1.4 million for vehicles stolen from commercial UEWI.
Figure 2. Vehicle age breakdown by theft location type
Figure 3. PLC thefts by the Glass’s Vehicle value hierarchy, theft location type and the average vehicle values
Estimated Glass's value ranges Number of PLC thefts % of PLC thefts Total Glass's value estimate % of total Glass's value estimate
> 0 to < $5000 77 20.2% $226,372 3.8%
$5,000 to < $10,000 75 19.7% $516,818 8.6%
$10,000 to < $20,000 118 31.0% $1,661,307 27.7%
$20,000 to < $30,000 59 15.5% $1,387,145 23.2%
$30,000 to < $50,000 41 10.8% $1,468,644 24.5%
$50,000+ 11 2.9% $728,347 12.2%
Grand Total 381 100.0% $5,988,632 100.0%
Estimated Glass's value ranges Number of PLC thefts % of PLC thefts Total Glass's value estimate % of total Glass's value estimate
> 0 to < $5000 13 17.8% $43,252 2.9%
$5,000 to < $10,000 7 9.6% $55,926 3.8%
$10,000 to < $20,000 19 26.0% $266,201 18.1%
$20,000 to < $30,000 17 23.3% $385,185 26.1%
$30,000 to < $50,000 13 17.8% $468,742 31.8%
$50,000+ 4 5.5% $254,205 17.3%
Grand Total 73 100.0% $1,473,512 100.0%
Estimated Glass's value ranges Number of PLC thefts % of PLC thefts Total Glass's value estimate % of total Glass's value estimate
> 0 to < $5000 162 32.0% $484,733 7.1%
$5,000 to < $10,000 116 22.9% $803,514 11.7%
$10,000 to < $20,000 105 20.7% $1,586,103 23.1%
$20,000 to < $30,000 67 13.2% $1,600,268 23.3%
$30,000 to < $50,000 46 9.1% $1,719,876 25.1%
$50,000+ 11 2.2% $662,284 9.7%
Grand Total 507 100.0% $6,856,778 100.0%
  • Toyotas were the most popular vehicles stolen as were light commercial vehicles in both types of UEWI as well as in non-UEWI. In residential UEWI, seven of the top nine make model series year ranges were Toyotas and in commercial UEWI, six Toyotas made up the top ten make model series year ranges. In addition, five of the nine PLCs stolen in residential UEWI were light commercial vehicles or SUVs and eight of the eleven PLCs stolen in commercial UEWI were light commercial vehicles (Table 7 and 8).
Table 7 – Top PLC theft targets in residential UEWI by make model series year ranges
Make Model Series Year Range Number of PLC thefts % of PLC thefts
Toyota Hilux MY05_11 19 4.9%
Nissan Patrol GU MY97+ 10 2.6%
Toyota Hilux MY12_15 9 2.3%
Holden Commodore VE MY06_13 8 2.0%
Toyota Land cruiser Prado 150 Series MY09+ 7 1.8%
Toyota Corolla ZZE122R MY01_07 6 1.5%
Toyota Corolla ZRE152R MY07_14 6 1.5%
Toyota Hilux MY98_04 6 1.5%
Toyota Camry ACV36R MY02_06 6 1.5%
Table 8 – Top PLC theft targets in commercial UEWI by make model series year ranges
Make Model Series Year Range Number of PLC thefts % of PLC thefts
Toyota Hilux MY12_15 8 9.6%
Toyota Land cruiser 70 Series MY07+ 6 7.2%
Toyota Hilux MY05_11 5 6.0%
Mitsubishi Triton MN MY09_15 3 3.6%
Toyota Hilux MY89_97 3 3.6%
Toyota Land cruiser 70 Series MY99_07 3 3.6%
Suzuki Vitara LY MY15+ 2 2.4%
Holden Commodore Ute VY MY02_04 2 2.4%
Toyota Corolla ZRE182R MY12+ 2 2.4%
Mitsubishi Triton MK MY96_06 2 2.4%
Toyota Hilux MY15+ 2 2.4%
  • More than two fifths (42%) of all vehicles stolen were from the Local Government Area of Darwin (City). The proportion of thefts from residential UEWI in the Darwin LGA was slightly higher (51%) but a lower proportion of thefts in commercial UEWI were in the Darwin LGA (29%) (Table 9).
Theft LGA Residential UEWI Commercial UEWI Non-UEWI
No. of SMVs % of SMVs No. of SMVs % of SMVs No. of SMVs % of SMVs
Darwin (City) 198 50.5% 24 28.9% 261 42.0%
Palmerston (City) 103 26.3% 4 4.8% 95 15.3%
Alice Springs (Town) 42 10.7% 23 27.7% 87 14.0%
Litchfield (Municipality) 11 2.8% - - 71 11.4%
Katherine (Town) 25 6.4% 6 7.2% 30 4.8%
Unincorporated NT 2 0.5% 3 3.6% 18 2.9%
Barkly (Regional Council) 4 1.0% 3 3.6% 12 1.9%
East Arnhem (Regional Council) 1 0.3% 5 6.0% 10 1.6%
Central Desert (Regional Council) - - - - 7 1.1%
Victoria Daly (Regional Council) 2 0.5% 2 2.4% 5 0.8%
Coomalie (Shire) - - 3 3.6% 5 0.8%
Roper Gulf (Regional Council) - - 3 3.6% 4 0.6%
MacDonnell (Regional Council) - - - - 4 0.6%
West Arnhem (Regional Council) 1 0.3% 2 2.4% 2 0.3%
Tiwi Islands (Regional Council) 1 0.3% 2 2.4% 1 0.2%
West Daly (Regional Council) 1 0.3% 2 2.4% - -
Unknown 1 0.3% 1 1.2% 9 1.5%
Grand Total 392 100.0% 83 100.0% 621 100.0%
  • In both types of UEWI, Mondays were the most popular day of theft (19%) whereas in non-UEWI the most popular theft day was Friday (16%) followed by Saturday (15%). This may be more an indication of the day that the theft was reported rather than actually stolen. The victims of theft from residential or commercial UEWI may not have known exactly when their vehicle was stolen, especially in the case of commercial properties in which they may have become aware of the incident on the Monday.
  • The most popular time of theft for residential UEWI was 8pm to midnight (38%) followed by midnight to 4am (29%) whereas in commercial UEWI the most popular times were 4pm to 8pm (32%) followed by midnight to 4am (29%). In the case of non-UEWI thefts, 8pm to midnight made up of 27% of when the thefts occurred and a further 21% occurred between 4pm to 8pm.

Residential versus Commercial Unlawful Entry with Intent

A closer look at thefts involving unlawful entries with intent revealed that:

  • In 83% of thefts from a residential UEWI, the point of entry was the door and a further 14% through a window (where known). This compared to 61% of commercial UEWI having a door as the point of entry and a further 21% from a window (Figure 4, Table 10).
  • In 94% of thefts from a residential UEWI, the keys were taken compared to 77% of thefts from a commercial UEWI (Table 10).
  • In three quarters (75%) of thefts from a residential UEWI, someone was present however the occupants witnessed or engaged with the offender(s) in only 5% of the UEWI. There were three thefts where violence was used/threatened and one incident occurred where the offender(s) asked for the keys.
  • As predicted, in less than one sixth (15%) of commercial UEWI someone was present and in the 12 cases that someone was present, no one was asked for the keys nor did the offender(s) use or threaten occupants with violence (Figure 5, Table 10).

Figure 4. Unlawful point of entry
Figure 5. Was anyone present at the time of theft?
  • In two thirds of thefts from a residential UEWI (65%), keys were readily visible. This is more than double (30%) than that found in commercial UEWI (Table 10).
  • One in ten (10%) of all vehicles stolen were used to commit another crime. This was the same for residential UEWI however more than one quarter (27%) of thefts from a commercial UEWI were used to commit another offence.

Residential UEWI Commercial UEWI
No. of SMVs % of SMVs No. of SMVs % of SMVs
No of thefts 392 35.8% 83 7.6%
Door as Point of entry * 280 83.3% 37 60.6%
Keys were taken 368 93.9% 64 77.1%
Keys were readily visible 253 64.5% 25 30.1
People present during the incident
   • Offender(s) asked for keys
295 75.3% 12 14.5%
1 0.3% 0 0.0%
People witnessed/engaged in the theft 21 5.4% 1 1.2%
Offender(s) used or threaten violence 3 0.8% 0 0.0%
Vehicle used to commit another crime 39 9.9% 22 26.5%
* This was calculated based on the 336 thefts were the point of entry was known in residential UEWI and 61 thefts were the point of entry was known in commercial UEWI
  • In two thirds (67%) of motor vehicle thefts from a residence, the offender(s) stole other items in addition to the vehicle, compared to only one third (34%) of thefts from a commercial premise.
  • The most popular item to be stolen along with the vehicle(s) from residential and commercial properties was the wallet/handbag/purse/backpack (67% and 29%, respectively where something was stolen).
  • Other popular items taken by the offender(s) were all relatively small items and included cash, small electronic items such as phones, tablets, and computers and also keys (Figure 6, Table 11).
Figure 6. Top 5 other items stolen in a residential versus a commercial UEWI

Was anything else taken? Residential UEWI Commercial UEWI
No. % of (a)* % of (b)* No. % of (c)* % of (d)*
Wallet /Handbag/ Backpack with contents (may include cash) 178 67 45 8 29 10
Small Electronics (phone, iPod, laptop) 106 40 27 9 32 11
Cash 100 38 26 7 25 8
Other keys/other unspecified keys 56 21 14 4 14 5
Clothing 42 16 11 5 18 6
Jewellery 27 10 7 1 4 1
Cigarettes 21 8 5 4 14 5
Alcohol 20 8 5 3 11 4
Large Electronics (TV, Desktop computer) 14 5 4 2 7 2
Vehicle keys 14 5 4 3 11 4
Tools 13 5 3 3 11 4
House keys 10 4 3 0 - -
Car parts/equipment 8 3 2 1 4 1
Sporting goods 7 3 2 0 - -
CDs/DVDs/Books 3 1 1 1 4 1
Bicycle 2 1 1 1 4 1
Firearms/ammunition 2 1 1 3 11 4
Food 2 1 1 1 4 1
Other items taken 6 2 2 2 7 2
(a) *% of all residential UEWI where something was taken, (b) *% of all residential UEWI
(c) *% of all commercial UEWI where something was taken, (d) *% of all commercial UEWI

The National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC) acknowledges all police services, registration authorities, participating insurers, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Glass’s Information Services and Insurance Australia Group for the supply of the data on which this report is complied. Theft incident data may be subject to later revision by the data providers. This work is copyright. Material may be reproduced for personal, non-commercial use or for use within your organisation with attribution to the NMVTRC (www.carsafe.com.au). © 2018 NMVTRC. All rights reserved.

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