Source: The Mercury, 6 April, 2001, p.3 of 'Attitude'


Dude, here's your car...


 
A FEW weeks ago a friend of mine
was sitting at home watching TV
when she received a phone call from
her dad.
   "Where's your car?" he asked.
"In the driveway," she replied.
"Where's your car?" he asked again.
	"In the driveway," she replied again,
starting to wonder what he was
getting at.
	"No, where is your car?" he asked, in
a tone that my friend knew meant
trouble.
	She knew her car had been stolen
even before she looked out the
window at the now-empty driveway.
	The next phone call was from the
police, informing her that her car had
been found, burning, on the eastern
shore.
	Around the same time I heard a
story about another girl having her
car stolen
	She received a call saying her car
had been found in North Hobart and
she should go collect it immediately.
	Arriving to inspect the damage, the
girl was surprised to find that her car
was not where the police had said it
was. It had been stolen again.
	She then got a phone call saying
her car had been found again.
Burning, on the eastern
shore.
	Just this week my flatmate's
girlfriend had her car stolen from
outside her house at around 4am.
	It was found a few hours later, after
being smashed head-on into a wall!!
Nothing stolen from the car, not even
the stereo. Just a selection of tasteful
messages to the Police left scrawled
on the roof in lipstick. How mature. It's
obvious we're dealing with a superior
group of intellectuals  here.
	These are just three examples of the
growing epidemic of car theft in
Tasmania. About 10 cars are stolen
every day in Tasmania, adding up to a
staggering $21 million worth of stolen
cars a year. Around 80% of these are
stolen in the south of the state.
	These figures represent a worrying
125% increase in car thefts in the past
five years. In one weekend in July last
year an astonishing 48 cars were stolen
statewide.
	But Tassie is hardly the exception to
the rule. Surprisingly, Australia has the
world's second-highest rate of car theft
among developed countries, trailing
only the Poms in the car theft stakes.
	Australian Bureau of Statistics figures
claim 131,572 car thefts were reported
to police in 1998, which averages out
to one car stolen every four minutes.
Also, around 7000 motorbikes are
stolen across Australia annually.
In Tassie nine out of every 10
stolen cars are recovered, but
six out of those nine will
have been damaged in
some way.
	Cars more than 10
years old are the most
likely to be stolen, with
Holden Commodores and
Geminis, Ford Falcons and
Lasers, and Toyota
Corollas the most popular
targets.
	People who steal cars
just to joyride and then
write them off mustn't
realise the amount of
crap you have to go
through when your car
is stolen.
	First you have to go through the
motions with the police, answering
their inane questions while all you're
thinking about is catching the
pricks that taxed your car.
	If your stolen car is recovered
damaged or written off, a tow truck is
needed, and they don't come cheap.
	A friend of mine had his car stolen
from outside uni a couple of years ago.
It was found the next day, written off
beyond repair. The wreckers offered
him $100 for it; towing it to the
wreckers cost him $120.
   Then, of course, come the inevitable
hassles with the insurance company (if
you're lucky enough to have insurance
against theft, that is).
	And then there's the difficult period
between when your car is stolen and
when the insurance money comes
through, when you are reliant on buses
and taxis to get you where you need
to be.
	This is the period when you realise
just how convenient owning a car really
is. But car thieves don't think about
such issues when they're hotwiring
your beloved Datsun 180B.
	So what are governments doing to
stem the flow? Australian Institute of
Criminology figures show that in
1983, convicted car thieves
averaged 19 days jail. By 2000 this
had risen to 90 days jail, reflecting
the harsher penalties
imposed an car thieves.
	But here's some numbers to think
about -- in 1983 car thieves averaged
one conviction per 31 cars stolen. In
2000, this figure had risen to one
conviction per 47
cars stolen.
	That means your average car thief
steals 46 cars before being convicted.
	Makes you wonder where your car
is now, doesn't it?

KANE YOUNG


Where to next?

Student Questions for this article
Teacher Discussion of this article
Index - Related articles
Index - Inference
Main Index - Numeracy in the News