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Surge in theft adds to vehicle damage

Damage caused to vehicles by thefts has become a key concern of motoring bodies in Victoria as motor thefts and stealing from cars continues to soar.

The thefts of cars in Victoria rose to its highest level in seven years with 18,982 cars stolen in the 12 months until March 2024. There were an additional 2481 attempted theft of motor vehicles.

Owners of the vehicles in question are lucky to recover the vehicle without substantial damage but many are compelled to put in a claim for its full value when they are burnout or wrecked on a joyride.

The other element of the recently released crime statistics affecting vehicle owners and repairers is theft from motor vehicles.

Theft saw the biggest increases of any offence across the state up 26,361 to 181,665 offences and of these theft from a motor vehicle was the largest contributor, up 9,281 to 59,160 offences in the last 12 months.

This is an increase of almost 10,000 offences, or 18.6 per cent, on the 12 months to March 2023. It is also the highest in three years and in the top three years from the past decade.

While theft from cars often includes number plates and items stolen when doors are left open, it also includes cars where windows are smashed to gain access, necessitating costly repairs as well as the loss.


Given shop lifting offences have also soared by 35 per cent, the highest in a decade  the Crime Statistics Agency has considered whether the cost of living crisis is a factor in these spikes.

CSA Chief Statistician Fiona Dowsley said the 17 per cent increase in theft offences was driven by the highest ever numbers of stealing from a retail stores, as well as sizeable increases in stealing from a motor vehicle.

“This rapid increase in crimes involving the acquisition of property may be related to cost of living pressures” Dowsley says. “Alleged offenders being recorded for these crimes are drawn from all age groups, especially Steal from a retail store which is above pre-COVID levels.”

Victoria’s key motoring body the RACV  has issued a warning  for motorists to check the security of their motor vehicles and remove the opportunity from thieves.

RACV General Manager Motoring Products Jeff Ames said it’s easy for thieves to break into or steal a car when it’s in plain sight.

“If the opportunity presents, thieves will break into a car and take possessions that are easily visible from outside the vehicle, often using the opportunity to steal the car itself. That why it’s crucial to protect your vehicle, even when it’s parked at home,” Mr Ames says.


The RACV has released a five point check list to help reduce the risk for owners

  1. Secure your number plates:To protect your car from number plate theft, install anti-theft screws (also called safe plate screws, one-way screws or security screws). These screws can’t be easily removed and can be fitted at one of Neighbourhood Watch’s Safe Plate events across Victoria.
  2. Remove your valuables:Leaving valuable items like mobile phones, dashcams and other car accessories in plain sight increases the likelihood of theft.
  3. Lock your car:Always remember to secure your vehicle and take your keys with you whenever you leave, and don’t neglect locking the car’s rear doors and windows as these are frequently targeted by thieves for vehicle entry.
  4. Park in a locked garage or behind a locked gate if you can:This takes away the opportunity for an offender to quickly jump in and steal the car from a driveway or carport. Consider installing sensor lights and security cameras, ensuring garage access points are highly visible, and never let an unfamiliar car follow you into a communal garage.
  5. Check your insurance: Car insurancemay cover you in the event of theft from your car, so it is important to make sure your insurance is up to date and to check that you’re adequately covered by looking through the product disclosure statement.

For more information about further steps you can take to minimise the risk of vehicle theft, visit or






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