80 per cent increase in thefts from motor vehicles Canberra, with Belconnen, Braddon and Calwell all hotspots, say ACT Policing

80 per cent increase in thefts from motor vehicles Canberra, with Belconnen, Braddon and Calwell all hotspots, say ACT Policing

There has been an 80 per cent increase in thefts from motor vehicles in Canberra, with almost 850 thefts occurring in three months.

Belconnen, Braddon and Calwell recorded the highest number of incidents.

A man and woman have been charged over a crime spree in Perth's north.

A man and woman have been charged over a crime spree in Perth's north.

Police are at a loss to explain the huge jump in car break-ins but have again pleaded with the community to be vigilant and responsible, saying the thefts are often occurring when cars are left unlocked.


The Canberra Times revealed last week that vehicles in secure basement carparks in Woden and Kingston had recently been hit by thieves.

Now ACT Policing has confirmed that thefts from cars is a city-wide problem that has escalated wildly in recent months.

Figures released to The Canberra Times show there were 847 thefts from motor vehicles in the ACT reported to police from April 1 to June 30 this year.

That's a jump of 80 per cent from the same period last year when there were 471 thefts.

ACT Policing said the thefts were happening at houses, public places and carparks.

Thefts were happening every day of the week but spiking on Friday, Saturday and Monday.

Police also say thieves are more active in city areas during the day and in the suburbs at night.

Day-time hot spots include large open carparks, unsecured residential parking and street parking near town centres.

Those areas included the city, Braddon, Dickson, Belconnen, Woden, Manuka and Kingston as well as along Northbourne Avenue.

"These areas are targeted slightly more frequently during the day, when workers and shoppers leave their vehicles for long periods of time," a spokesman said.

"Thefts also often occur in the evening, when vehicles are parked in the same areas while people enjoy entertainment venues and restaurants."

Thieves turned their attention to the suburbs at night, targeting vehicles parked on the street and in driveways.

"The evening 'hot spots' are much more spread out, spanning many suburbs in Tuggeranong and Belconnen," the spokesman said.

A suburb-by-suburb break-down of the number of 830 incidents during the three months (in which there may be multiple offences) showed Belconnen had the highest number of car break-ins (35), followed by Braddon (34).

Tuggeranong neighbours Calwell (33), Conder (18) and Gordon (16) were other hot-spots.

As were the inner-south suburbs of Griffith (26), Kingston (23) and Narrabundah (19).

Property stolen was usually electronic devices (GPS, IPods and phones), tools, sunglasses and wallets (including bank cards).

ACT Policing said two-thirds of reported incidents between October 2013 and October 2014 showed no signs of forced entry, indicating that the vehicle had not been properly secured.

But thieves are also smashing their way into the vehicles.

O'Brien Glass said it had experienced a 50 per cent increase in side glass enquiries over the last month, with staff working overtime to clear the backlog. The side glass was usually damaged in a break-in rather than an accident.

Belconnen Community Council chair Tara Cheyne, who lives in the town centre, said the increased number of high-rise apartments with underground parking was likely fuelling the increase in thefts from cars.

"Once thieves gain access to these, it also gives them access to a significant number of cars at once, which could point to that increase," she said.

"Certainly anecdotally, and as a resident of the town centre, people are concerned but that also leads to heightened vigilance and people, as far as I'm concerned, are behaving a lot more carefully when they've seen someone in their carparks they haven't seen before. And I think behaving in that neighbourly way is an important way to help address these incidents."

Calwell businessman Nick Tsoulias said better street lighting might deter thieves but he believed the spike in thefts pointed to an even greater social issue in which generations of families seemed to believe stealing and breaking the law was the norm.

"We can't let these kids live a life without working," he said.

Inner South Canberra Community Council acting chair Anne Forrest said it was "well aware" of increasing property crime in the area.

"There seems to be a real problem with multi-unit developments with underground carparks and there seems to be just wanton vandalism of vehicles and opportunistic theft, which is terrible for the community" she said.

Canberra City Residents Association president Joshua Ceramidas said he believed Braddon might have experienced the high number of thefts because it was an entertainment precinct at night and many unit developments only had one carpark for residents, leaving second cars to be parked on the street. But so-called secure carparks also targeted in the city.

"Certainly in the apartment I live in, despite having a secure carpark, we've had people walking behind vehicles through the garage door and stealing things from cars and storage cages. It's certainly a problem." Mr Ceramidas said.

Police urged the community to lock up their cars, remove valuables from them and to report any suspicious behaviour such as people loitering around cars or peering into windows.

"While police will continue to conduct high-visibility patrols to discourage would-be thieves, members of the public should take a few security precautions to help prevent this type of crime," the spokesman said.

* Anyone who sees suspicious behaviour around cars should ring the police on 131 444.

Megan Doherty is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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