Crime Stoppers Victoria is reminding the Ballarat community that being careless could lead to being carless. With the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and more Victorians heading back on our roads, police are hoping this won’t lead to a resurgence in car theft.
Crime Stoppers will launch ‘Being Careless Could Make You Carless’ with Victoria Police on Thursday, 26 November 2020 at 9.00am outside Ballarat Police Station at 10/20 Dana St, Ballarat Central.
The campaign is a reminder for individuals to be car-smart when locking their vehicles and removing valuables from their vehicle. Chief Executive of Crime Stoppers Victoria, Stella Smith says, it’s important to lock up to ensure your car is safe at all times.
‘If you leave your vehicle unlocked or leave any personal items in the front or backseat, you may as well be offering criminals a free ride and a shopping trip. It sounds like common sense but at Crime Stoppers we see hundreds of instances each year where people have overlooked the basics.’
Seven out of ten cars are stolen with their own keys according to the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (carsafe.com.au).
Stella Smith says the best way to prevent vehicle theft is by making sure you are not a target.
‘If you leave your car keys near the front door, it makes your car an easy target for thieves. If you leave your car unlocked anything inside is an easy target.
While some people only consider the cost of the vehicle itself, if you leave personal items in the car like your phone, ID, wallet or housekeys, these additional expenses can be costly and sometimes, irreplaceable.’
The Crime Statistics Agency Victoria recorded 1611 thefts from a motor vehicle (TFMV) and 702 thefts of a motor vehicle (TOMV) in Ballarat for the year ended July 2020.
Despite an increase of 13% of TFMV offences and 21% of TOMV offences from the previous year, Inspector of Ballarat Tasking and Coordination, Paul Bertoncello says, police have seen a significant decrease in vehicle centric offending over the past six months.
‘Police have noticed a behavioural shift in the Ballarat community. Under Covid-19 restrictions, people are staying home and have become more protective of their homes, belongings and each other.’
In March 2020, police examined 80 vehicles parked in community locations in Ballarat and found 37 (46%) unlocked or with valuables in vehicles.
In September 2020, police repeated the exercise and noted a massive improvement in community behaviour. Out of the 1182 vehicles checked, only 38 (3.2%) were unlocked or had valuables visible.
Inspector Paul Bertoncello encourages the community to keep up the precautions by securing their vehicles.
‘With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in Victoria, it’s even more important for the local community to keep up their good-car habits by locking their vehicle and having a second look around before leaving their vehicle unattended.’
Stella Smith commends the Ballarat community for looking out for each other but encourages sharing information that relates to the perpetrators of vehicle theft to Crime Stoppers.
‘By reporting information to Crime Stoppers, this helps police gather information to build cases and to subsequently, identify offenders and make arrests.’
Inspector Paul Bertoncello says the best way to stop theft is to report information about offenders to Crime Stoppers.
‘Vehicle theft can be the start of a perpetual crime cycle. When an offender steals a vehicle, they will likely steal petrol and when they can’t steal petrol anymore, they will set the vehicle on fire and move onto the next thing. The only way to stop vehicle-related theft is to stop the offender.’
Any information relating to offenders involved in vehicle-related theft or suspicious activity can be reported confidentially to Crime Stoppers at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au or on 1800 333 000