Skip to main content

Theft Watch - 12 months to March 2020

Issue 74 - June 2020

  • Nationally, motor vehicle theft increased 11 per cent (6,074) in the 12 months to March 2020 to a total of 60,165. Total theft volumes were up in all jurisdictions except the Northern Territory.
  • Heavy/ Other vehicles recorded the largest increase of 12 per cent followed by an 11 per cent increase in PLC and motorcycle theft.
  • SA, QLD and VIC all saw significant rises in total theft volumes for the March quarter.
Theft by motivation
  • There was an increase in both short term and profit motivated theft across all vehicle types.
  • Short term theft rose by 3,867 thefts from the previous twelve months (up 10 per cent). There was a considerable increase in short term motorcycle thefts (13 per cent).
  • Profit motivated thefts had an increase of 2,207 thefts (15 per cent). This was largely driven by profit motivated PLC thefts (up 19 per cent), particularly in Queensland and Victoria.
Post March Data

Early data indicates that the social lock-down arrangements implemented nationally in response to the COVID-19 crisis have had a very positive dampening effect on vehicle crime rates for April and May. Despite this, it looks very much like FY2020 will see many parts of Australia record double-digit percentage increases across all vehicle types for both short-term and profit-motivated theft. Unfortunately, this leaves the nation on the path to more than 60,000 thefts per annum for first time since the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2009.

There is a clear, established correlation between the performance of the economy and crime generally. With the ongoing disruption of the pandemic, it is almost certain the current uplift in vehicle crime will extend well into 2021 at a minimum. This will include ‘true’ vehicle theft and instances of insurance fraud disguised as theft and/or staged collisions.

Note: All short term and profit motivated figures are based on ‘Adjusted for late recoveries’

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 12 months to March 2020

All motor vehicles

Other vehicles icon Passenger and light commercial vehicles icon Motorcycle icon
- - -
- - -

Passenger/light commercials

Passenger and light commercial vehicles icon
- - -
- - -


Motorcycle icon
- - -
- - -

Other motor vehicles

Other vehicles icon
- - -
- - -
Top 5 Passenger/light commercial vehicle theft targets in Australia during 12 months to March 2020
State or Territory Make model series year range 2019-04 to 2020-03
AUS Holden Commodore VE MY06_13 1070
AUS Toyota Hilux MY05_11 683
AUS Nissan Pulsar N15 MY95_00 608
AUS Nissan Navara D40 MY05_15 503
AUS Holden Commodore VY MY02_04 491
Top 5 Local Government Areas (LGA) for Passenger/light commercial vehicle thefts in Australia during 12 months to March 2020
State or Territory LGA 2019-04 to 2020-03
QLD Brisbane (City) 2,801
QLD Gold Coast (City) 1,903
QLD Logan (City) 1,362
QLD Moreton Bay (Regional Council) 1,009
ACT Greater ACT 989
Number and percent of PLC thefts in Australia by estimated value at time of theft, during 12 months to March 2020

State and Territory comparison - Passenger/light commercial vehicle theft

Number of PLC thefts during 12 months to March 2020
PLC short term thefts (five year trend to March 2020)
PLC profit-motivated thefts (five year trend to March 2020)

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 30 April 2020 for all states/territories except for TAS which is at 31 March 2020.

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 ( © 2020 NMVTRC. All rights reserved.

Charts powered by highcharts.