Theft Watch: 12 Months to March 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’

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