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Theft Watch - Calendar year 2018

Issue 69 - March 2019


  • In 2018, 53,564 vehicles were stolen in Australia, a marginal increase of 0.7% and largely attributable to a rise in motorcycle theft (7%).
  • The heavy/other group delivered the greatest reduction falling 5% across both short term and profit motivated theft with a total theft of 2,135
  • Among the larger jurisdictions, Western Australia enjoyed the largest decline of 7% or 525 fewer thefts.
  • Solid reductions were also recorded in the smaller jurisdictions: Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory.
  • Queensland recorded a statistically significant increase of 12%. As a result, the State’s theft volumes are now 48% higher than they were in 2014.
  • Total PLC theft remained stable (down 0.2%) with a total of 42,683 cars stolen with a recovery rate of 78%.
  • Short term PLC thefts fell by 2% (787 thefts). Among the larger jurisdictions, Western Australia had the largest decline of 10% while Queensland bucked the national trend with an increase of 13 per cent.
  • Profit motivated theft increased by 696 (8%). Of the larger jurisdictions, Queensland suffered the largest increase up 17% or 221 additional thefts. This was closely followed by Victoria up 16% or 453 thefts.
  • Motorcycle theft rose by 7% or 597 thefts to a total of 8,746 with a recovery rate of 47%.
  • The recovery rate for heavy and other vehicles for the year was 52% and large reductions were recorded in WA (down 33% to 297 thefts).
  • 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 Calendar year 2018

All motor vehicles

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

Passenger and light commercial vehicles icon
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Motorcycle icon
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Other motor vehicles

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Top 5 Passenger/light commercial vehicle theft targets in Australia during Calendar year 2018
State or Territory Make model series year range 2018
AUS Holden Commodore VE MY06_13 978
AUS Nissan Pulsar N15 MY95_00 730
AUS Toyota Hilux MY05_11 634
AUS Holden Commodore VY MY02_04 531
AUS Ford Falcon BA MY02_05 510
Top 5 Local Government Areas (LGA) for Passenger/light commercial vehicle thefts in Australia during Calendar year 2018
State or Territory LGA 2018
QLD Brisbane (City) 2,137
QLD Gold Coast (City) 1,592
QLD Logan (City) 1,108
VIC Hume (City) 1,006
ACT Greater ACT 929
Number and percent of PLC thefts in Australia by estimated value at time of theft, during Calendar year 2018

State and Territory comparison - Passenger/light commercial vehicle theft

Number of PLC thefts during Calendar year 2018
PLC short term thefts (five year trend to 2018)
PLC profit-motivated thefts (five year trend to 2018)

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 January 2019 for all states/territories except for TAS which is at 31 December 2018.

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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