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Car Theft Crackdown Could be Costly to Motorists

12 January 2005

Car Theft Crackdown Could be Costly to Motorists

The Government’s announced vehicle crime reduction programme may not result in any real saving for motorists the AA has warned.

“Car theft is anti-social, annoying, and frequently involves racing and other dangerous behaviour so the Government is right to seek a solution to this problem. However it is difficult to imagine that these measures will significantly reduce car theft in three years as predicted. It would be most unfortunate if the Government has underestimated the price of car theft deterrent technology because that would have a dampening effect on the faster uptake of newer cars into the fleet. In general newer cars have far better safety and environmental benefits for the whole country.” Mr Fairbairn said.

“According to the Minister, vehicle theft costs New Zealanders $110 million a year but the Minister also says that the cost of this programme will be $400 per vehicle for 150,000 vehicles per year. That means a total of $60 million a year. However it is suggested the $400 figure is something of an underestimate. If the figure is more motorists could end up paying more than $110 million a year extra for new cars, in order to prevent a $110 million problem which largely affects older cars.” AA Public Affairs Director George Fairbairn warned.

While the programme will make newly imported cars less attractive to car thieves it will probably take a decade or two before all the cars in the fleet have the theft prevention technology fitted. By then it is doubtful if car thieves will not have learned how to overcome today’s technology, which will, by then, be 20 years old. In the meantime Mr Fairbairn pointed out opportunistic thieves will continue to target the oldest and least well protected cars in the fleet. He noted some high profile thefts suggested professional car thieves do not seem particularly deterred from stealing the latest marques, no matter what sort of electronic protection they may have.

Mr Fairbairn said car theft risk assessment was generally a matter which affected individuals whereas the safety and environmental benefits of newer cars on the road affected the public at large.

“It is difficult to see why the Government should believe the market has failed and make anti-vehicle theft measures compulsory. Surely, this is one area where competing insurance firms and individuals could have been left to work out the best mix of options,” he said.


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