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Last 7 Days

by John Cadogan

If you had a $200-million-plus crime spree going on all around you, and the cops were doing essentially nothing, would you be outraged? Most people I know would be at least upset.

Better cue the upset-verging-on-outrage, then, because this is exactly what’s happening – at least in NSW.

Above: Car theft in NSW – a $200+ million industry

However much we might like to believe in fairness, the successful prosecution of thieves just isn’t happening – at least not on the road.

News Limited reported last weekend that in NSW alone, car thieves have an incredible 93 per cent chance of getting away with it. Apparently, 20,256 car thefts were reported in NSW last year. Of those, 1444 charges were laid – a paltry seven per cent of the total.

Actually the chances of getting away with it are even higher. If only seven per cent are charged, fewer than seven per cent would be successfully prosecuted…

If each of those cars stolen is worth just an average of $10,000 apiece, then you’re looking at a $200 million problem.

Above: Only seven per cent of NSW car thieves actually get charged

(Those breaking into homes, shops and offices were even slightly better off – just 6.5 per cent of the 58,261 reported B&Es last year resulted in charges. And, apparently, half of the fraudsters are getting away with it.)

The NSW cops say they are massively understaffed. Officially, the NSW Police Force claims it investigates every crime. However, it’s clearly giving motor vehicle theft the ‘once over lightly’ treatment. Correction: the ‘can’t be bothered’ treatment.

NSW Police Association president Scott Weber told News Limited that the cops were 500 down on their gazetted strength, a fact endorsed by the state’s Auditor General.

Above: not something a car thief generally experiences in NSW – sadly

It does seem somewhat galling, doesn’t it? Considering the resources marshalled against you as a driver, the fines, the tolls, the zero tolerance and the road infrastructure groaning under the weight of the cars it is expected to carry, it would seem only fair that is someone nicks your car, some official resources were brought to bear.

We are all paying for those unsolved thefts, every time we incur an insurance premium it’s factored in. If you think it’s the insurance companies copping the cost, think again – ultimately we all pay.

Above: Say hello to your car’s new owner

As things stand, the authorities can just about spot you from space if you’re just a few kays over the limit, and an armada of council rangers is marshalled against you, should you overstay your welcome at a parking meter by just a couple of minutes. But if some mongrel nicks your car, you better hope your insurance is up to date because, basically, you’re on your own.

Considering the contribution to the state’s (and Federal) coffers made by drivers, wouldn’t it be a fairer deal if a serious attempt were made to apprehend the people out there actually stealing cars? Wouldn’t it be a deterrent if more thieves were actually apprehended? I mean, if you thought you were actually going to get caught, wouldn’t you be somewhat less inclined to involve yourself in the car theft game?

Above: NSW Police Force guidelines on dealing with car thieves

As things stand, a 93 per cent chance of getting away with it is tantamount to giving the overwhelming majority of car thieves a ‘get out of jail free’ card. These are the kind of odds you can bet against. As things stand you’d have to be either dead stupid or dead unlucky to steal a car in NSW and actually get caught.

What do you think should be done?