Wondering what the professional thief’s favourite car was last year? Perhaps you’re thinking a top-end BMW, Lexus or even Bentley. Or maybe a brand new Audi or Volkswagen.
In fact, the most stolen vehicle isn’t even a sedan. You’re more likely to see your local tradie driving it rather than the local lawyer: It’s the Toyota HiLux.
Active black market
In the 2014-15 financial year, profit-motivated thieves across Australia stole 326 HiLuxes. That’s 100 more than the next most stolen vehicle, the Holden Commodore.
There are two good reasons the HiLux is the most stolen car in Australia. "In terms of utilities and cabs, it’s the most sold 4WD,” the Executive Director of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (known as CarSafe Australia), Ray Carroll, says.
“And if you’ve got a really popular car: One, you’re going to have a really active black market for parts; two, they’re also a very sought after car across the world, particularly in developing nations, so parts are red hot for putting in containers.”
The top six most stolen
In New South Wales last year, the most vehicles stolen for profit-motivated theft (for spare parts or on-selling) were:
- Toyota HiLux (2005-2011 – 249 vehicles stolen)
- Toyota Aurion GSV (2006-2012 – 143 vehicles stolen)
- Toyota Hiace (1990-2004 – 142 vehicles stolen).
For short-term theft (motivated by joyriding, vandalism or use in another a crime), the list-toppers were:
- Holden Commodore VT (1997-2000 – 132 vehicles stolen)
- Toyota HiLux (2005-2011 – 122 vehicles stolen)
- Hyundai Excel X3 (1994-2000 – 114 vehicles stolen)
Car theft in NSW down
The higher number of cars stolen for profit in NSW compared with short-term theft is unique in Australia. “NSW has traditionally been the epicentre of profit-motivated theft,” says Carroll. “But in recent years, NSW car theft has come down dramatically.
CarSafe distinguishes between cars stolen for profit and those stolen for other purposes, including joyriding, vandalism or use in another a crime. “In Victoria for example, The Nissan Pulsar is one of the most stolen cars,” says Carroll. “But it’s almost always stolen by ‘Pulsar gangs’ in Melbourne who thrash the car and upload their exploits to social media. It’s basically never stolen for profit.”
Any car can be stolen at any time
Despite the headline numbers and the fact that overall, fewer cars were stolen in Australia last year than any time since records have been kept, Carroll’s main message is that any car can be stolen at any time. “Just because you don’t have a Commodore or Pulsar or HiLux doesn’t meant you can rest up,” he says.
If you’ve got a pre 2001 model car, you should consider fitting an immobiliser because, as Carroll notes wryly: “Otherwise, any semi-competent 14-year-old can steal your car.”
Keep your keys safe
If you have a post-2001 model car, it’s all about protecting your keys.
“The most common way of stealing a car is theft of keys from inside the house,” Carroll says. “Be conscious: don’t leave them by the fruit bowl on the kitchen table; don’t put them on a key hook that says, ‘keys here’.
If a profit-motivated thief after a HiLux or Audi wants to steal your car, they will. But keeping your keys safe will help stop the 16 or 20-year-old looking to steal a car for the night.”
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