If you like driving around an old bomb for the love of nostalgia and still hope to find your car where you’ve last parked it, my advice would be to invest in a steering wheel lock especially if you own an early model Holden Commodore. Apparently it’s one of those ‘no-brainers’ favoured by car thieves as it’s a dream to start up effortlessly using just a dipstick. Not that any of us would know.

In fact it’s such a hot favourite to steal that seventeen out of the 20 cars that got snitched in Australia in 2010 were Holden Commodores, usually a 1992 model or similar. The other top three contenders in a car thief’s shopping list (National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council) are the ’97 and ’98 Hyundai Excel (8th and 17th) and the ’91 Toyota Camry in 20th place. It seems the Commodores have it worst as the early models lack sufficient security, to the point that all you need is a key vaguely resembling the same make and model to trick the worn locks into clicking open. Research indicates electronic immobilisers are the best form of vehicle security to deter thieves, yet people are not adequately securing their cars. There are an estimated five million unsecured immobilised cars in our nation open to such theft risks.

Thief in black clothing and mask stealing car

Dude! Where’s my car?

Car Thieves In Australia

Australia has one of the highest rates of motor vehicle theft in the world with about 82,900 motor vehicles stolen in 2009-10. It costs our community a whopping $1 billion each year (Australian Institute of Criminology). Western Australia is the top state for car thefts with a vehicle stolen every hour, which is almost four vehicles for every 1000 registrations, double the rate in South Australia and Tasmania, and beating every other state including Victoria and Queensland. It is a wonder that car theft occurrences are so high in Australia, a country where vehicle prices are on the low end of the spectrum and ownership is made easy with competitive low rate car finance offers in the current market.

The most targeted cars to steal in WA remain the Holden Commodore VE, VT and VX followed by the Toyota Hilux and Ford Falcon. Simple fact—these are plentiful on our roads and targeted for their valuable parts, all of which are easily moved in the black market. Though world-first WA laws requiring mandatory immobilisers may have cut down on opportunistic thefts, they seem to have diverted thieves to breaking and entering into homes. Their new strategy is to steal car keys before screeching off from garages and driveways.

While the easy to prey on older cars are more targeted especially by juveniles for joy-rides and to commit crimes, we can’t rule out risks faced by newer models of vehicles either, since profit-motivated thefts remain rampant. Any make of car could be targeted for its spare parts and scrap metal to be sold on the black market or even illegally exported for re-sale. One in 10 stolen 4WDs and commercial vehicles are exported whole or in parts mostly to the Middle East and West Africa.

Career car thieves and ‘grand auto theft’ syndicates are not just merely fictional or reminiscent of movies such as ‘Gone In 60 Seconds’, a stylish Hollywood luxury car heist thriller starring Nicholas Cage and Angelina Jolie in 2000, or the more recent Fast & The Furious franchise. These syndicates and professional car thieves actually do exist and run a massively profitable trade dealing with stolen cars. In 2012, a gang from Birmingham was jailed for 12 years for their role in a huge car cloning scam involving £1.25 million worth of dream luxury vehicles sold to unsuspecting customers. The high performance lineup featured Range Rover Sport, Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Porsche 911 Carerra, Lexus, Volkswagen and Peugeot 207.

Many of these highly organised professional crime syndicates sell stolen cars after cosmetic make-overs, altering cars to look like top of the line models of the ‘real mccoy’ with inflated prices yet without safety features.

These highlighted arrests serve as a stark reminder of the risks of purchasing second hand cars through private sellers without careful research and conducting full checks through official websites like the PPSR (Personal Property Securities Register).

Here’s 10 great car-safe strategies for you to make the job difficult for car thieves:
1. Parking cars in well-lit, preferably secured locations
2. Lock your car before you leave it parked and ensure no valuables are visible from outside
3. Using car alarms and immobilisers (visit carsafe.com.au for authorised immobiliser installers in your state)
4. Using steering wheel locks
5. Don’t leave keys in plain sight at home; hide in a secure place
6. Don’t leave keys near open windows and doors at home
7. Don’t leave keys in the ignition if your car is garaged
8. Lock doors and windows when you are at home
9. Don’t leave spare car keys in your glove box or centre console.
10. Don’t leave a window even slightly open to beat the summer heat; it’s an open invite to car thieves!

What’s the worst thing you could do as a car driver? Leaving your car running while you do a quick dart into the newsagent to get your Powerball quick pick, thinking you may have the luck and ‘the power to change it all’! Well, you do, mate. Don’t let some opportunistic punk drive your car off in your haste to get rich and leave you poorer in your pocket and spirits. Start with turning off your car, removing your keys, locking up everything including the windows and doors.

As for shopping around for the best vehicle financing options, don’t let unscrupulous brokers or thieving opportunists steal you blind. Ensure you make an informed decision by choosing a reputable and reliable finance broker such as 360 Finance today. Without the lottery, we can still give you the power to change it all.