Tougher vehicle theft penalties assessed

As motorcycle theft continues to be the one area of vehicle theft to rise, a tougher penalty system for offenders is being assessed.

Australian motor vehicle theft is down 4% in the year to October 2018, with the only sector increasing being motorcycles, up 4%.

The biggest increase was in NSW which was up 258 or 15.9% to 1878, despite the state introducing tougher penalties for rebirthing offenders in 2006.

Any rider whose has their pride and joy stolen would probably suggest tough penalties. In one previous article a reader suggested castration!

Tougher penalties

theft lock grinder steal thief tougher
Thieves caught lifting a bike on to a ute

Law enforcement agencies agree that tougher penalties are needed.

However, the big problem has been that organised criminal rings use specialist criminals for different functions of the same offence.

They include bike thieves, burglars who break into your house to steal car or bike keys, re-birthers, fencers and document forgers.

This has made it difficult to convict offenders and gang bosses or organisers. Charges were often not proven or bargained down to lesser charges, such as receiving stolen property.

At best, the conviction system was protracted with little or no joy for the victims.

In 2006, the NSW government amended the Crimes Act 1900 to introduce a new offence of knowingly facilitating a rebirthing activity carried out on an organised basis.

It would apply to any and all members in the network involved in stealing your motorcycle or car with tougher penalties.

While it seemed like a good idea, National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council figures seem to show it is not working. In fact, NSW bike theft is up almost a quarter over the past four years.

Motorcycle theft 2013-10 to 2018-09

State/Territory 2013-10 to 2014-09 2017-10 to 2018-09 % change
Thefts Thefts
ACT 109 110 0.9% 
NSW 1,506 1,878 24.7% 
NT 190 87 -54.2% 
QLD 1,354 1,619 19.6% 
SA 451 543 20.4% 
TAS 111 142 27.9% 
VIC 1,832 2,097 14.5% 
WA 2,638 2,044 -22.5% 
AUS 8,191 100.0 8,520 100.0 4.0% 

Laws assessed

Law firm DLA Phillips Fox assessed the law changes in 2010 but found many matters were still before the court. They found there had not been enough time to draw conclusions on the law’s impact.

So now the NMVTRC has engaged law firm Clayton Utz to do a second review.

They will not only consider NSW prosecutions but also identify issues that might lead to similar provisions across the nation.

A report is expected to be available by end of April 2019.


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