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Theft Watch - Financial year 2018/19

Issue 71 - September 2019


Total thefts
  • Nationally, a total of 55,293 motor vehicles were stolen in 2018/19. This represents a 5 per cent increase over the previous year (i.e. 2,620 more thefts.)
  • Increases were seen across all vehicle theft categories of between 4 per cent (PLCs) and 9 per cent (motorcycles).
  • At the jurisdictional level, Queensland maintained its sustained period of rising vehicle crime that dates back to 2014, recording a further rise of 15 per cent (or 1,755 additional thefts). Double digit rises were also seen in Tasmania (14 per cent) and South Australia (13 per cent).
  • ACT and NT were the only jurisdictions to experience an overall reduction in related offending.
Theft by motivation
  • Short term theft increased by 845 thefts (or 2 per cent). Short term motorcycle thefts rose by 8 per cent.
  • Profit motivated thefts rose by 1,775 (13 per cent). This was driven by increases in both profit motivated PLC thefts (up 15 per cent) and motorcycles (up 10 per cent).
Theft by vehicle type
  • Total PLC theft increased by 4 per cent (up 1,740) to a total of 43,839.
  • Theft of PLCs for short term use was up 463 (1 per cent). PLCs stolen for profit increased by 1,277 (15 per cent).
  • Of the larger jurisdictions, Queensland recorded the largest increase in PLC theft of 14 per cent. This was made up of an additional 1,040 (13 per cent) short term thefts and 339 more profit motivated thefts (up 26 per cent).
  • The national PLC recovery rate has remained relatively stable over the 12 months at 78 per cent.
  • Motorcycle theft increased by 9 per cent (784 thefts) to a total of 9,261 for the year with an adjusted recovery rate of 49 per cent. This included an 8 per cent increase in short term theft and a 10 per cent increase in profit motivated thefts.
  • Heavy and other vehicle theft increased by 5 per cent to a total of 2,193.
  • Note: All short term and profit motivated figures are based on 'Adjusted for late recoveries'.
  • For a more detailed analysis of current theft trends be sure to check out our interactive dashboard.

The statistics published from CARS may differ to those released by other agencies for a number of reasons including:

  • CARS data only captures motorised vehicles that are self- propelled and run on land without being restricted to rails or tram lines. This includes, but is not limited to, cars, motorcycles, campervans, trucks, lorries, buses, graders and tractors. Thus CARS data excludes other forms of motorised vehicles such as boats and planes, as well as non-motorised vehicles such as trailers, caravans, horse floats, etc.
  • CARS statistics, unlike some other published figures, excludes all records of ‘Attempted motor vehicle thefts’ due to difficulties in distinguishing these offences from criminal damage.
  • CARS excludes records that had been classified as ‘No offence detected’, ‘complaint withdrawn’ or ‘cancelled’. These classifications are typically used where it is determined the vehicle had not be stolen, for example when the owner has temporarily forgotten where they parked their car, or had forgotten that a family member was using the vehicle.
  • Differences in the extraction date of the data from the agencies reporting systems may affect both the number of thefts recorded and also their recovery status.
  • Differences in the selection criteria used for the data extract or analysis, i.e. the date the incident was reported to police, versus incident date.
  • CARS data also removes a small number of duplicate records contained in some datasets.
  • Where indicated, some CARS products apply an adjustment for late recoveries. This adjustment is the expected number of vehicles that will be recovered up to one year after the close of the data. It should be used when comparing the current level of short term or profit motivated theft with that from a previous time period. This adjustment does not change the total number of thefts. It only has the effect of moving a percentage of vehicles from the profit motivated category (not recovered) to the short term category (recovered) in the last period.
There were - vehicles stolen in Australia during Financial year 2018/19

All motor vehicles

Other vehicles icon Passenger and light commercial vehicles icon Motorcycle icon
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Passenger/light commercials

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Other motor vehicles

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Top 5 Passenger/light commercial vehicle theft targets in Australia during Financial year 2018/19
State or Territory Make model series year range 2018/19
AUS Holden Commodore VE MY06_13 1011
AUS Toyota Hilux MY05_11 677
AUS Nissan Pulsar N15 MY95_00 664
AUS Holden Commodore VY MY02_04 494
AUS Nissan Navara D40 MY05_15 475
Top 5 Local Government Areas (LGA) for Passenger/light commercial vehicle thefts in Australia during Financial year 2018/19
State or Territory LGA 2018/19
QLD Brisbane (City) 2,363
QLD Gold Coast (City) 1,612
QLD Logan (City) 1,176
QLD Moreton Bay (Regional Council) 992
VIC Hume (City) 923
Number and percent of PLC thefts in Australia by estimated value at time of theft, during Financial year 2018/19

State and Territory comparison - Passenger/light commercial vehicle theft

Number of PLC thefts during Financial year 2018/19
PLC short term thefts (five year trend to FY 2018/19)
PLC profit-motivated thefts (five year trend to FY 2018/19)

For a more detailed analysis of current theft trends be sure to check out our interactive dashboard

Short term thefts are defined as motor vehicles that were stolen and recovered, profit motivated thefts were those stolen and not recovered. Recovery status is as at 31 July 2019 for all states/territories except for TAS which is at 30 June 2019.

Recovery data used in this report has been adjusted for the number of missing vehicles that are expected to be recovered up to a year after the close of the data period. This adjustment has the effect of moving number of thefts from the profit motivated (not recovered category) to the short term (recovered category).

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 ( © 2019 NMVTRC. All rights reserved.

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