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