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Where is Labour’s strategy on car thefts?

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

19 December 2006

Where is Labour’s strategy on car thefts?

The Government should explain what has happened to its plans to introduce a mandatory scheme that would target organised car-theft rings, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

“In January last year, then-Justice Minister Phil Goff launched the Government’s Vehicle Crime Reduction Strategy with great fanfare, saying the universal fitting of immobilisers and Whole of Vehicle Marking on newly imported cars and light vehicles ‘should be implemented within 18 months’.

“But that was two years ago and not much seems to have happened since – apart from about 68,000 more cars being stolen. Latest figures show 38,623 cars were stolen in 2005/06, up 5,611 or 17% on 2004/05.

“The strategy looked exactly like what was needed to help stem that. It has had dramatic effects on car thefts in Australia, and it seems our police support it, so where is it?

“The October issue of Police News, in an article entitled ‘Initiatives to reduce car theft may be stymied’, says the Ministry of Transport seemed to be having second thoughts about it.

“Phil Goff acknowledged that immobilisers cut thefts by 34% in West Australia and by 23% in the United Kingdom, and Whole of Vehicle Marking ‘has proven a strong deterrent to professional criminals in countries where it has been introduced’ and ‘the theft rate of marked BMWs and Holdens has been 60% and 73% less respectively than the unmarked equivalents’.

“It is also reported that WOVM costs less than $50 a car, and as car thefts are reduced is likely to result in insurance premiums being lower than would otherwise be the case without it.

“Police Minister and Transport Minister Annette King and Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven should tell the public why they are dragging their feet on this.

“We should be looking at anything that cuts car thefts and frees up police to concentrate on more serious crime.

“We must stop car thefts and car-theft rings.

“Unfortunately, this looks like another initiative of Phil Goff’s that has been overturned since he was relieved of the Justice portfolio – like his recommendations against changes to sentencing laws, electronic monitoring of prisoners and home detention, and his statements that a rising prison population was good news.”

ENDS

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