A crime targeting taskforce has been formed by ACT police to focus on vehicle theft across the territory during October, many as a result of lax owner security.
Task Force Oquendo is looking at commonalities between the thefts, such where they occurred and when, to determine if there are any patterns to the criminal behaviour.
But they know one common thread runs through many: people leaving their car keys where they can be easily stolen.
The officer in charge of Woden station, Detective Inspector Shane Scott, has been working in the intelligence area for the past two years and assessed literally hundreds of stolen vehicle reports revealing how poorly people in the ACT pay attention to standard crime prevention measures.
"Car keys left in the ignition, keys hanging up on hooks inside the garage, in glove boxes, on kitchen benches, you see it a lot," he said.
Most modern cars can't be started without the transponder; the separate key fob or integrated chip-key that send an electronic signal to deactivate the engine immobiliser.
Last month at least a third of the 96 cars stolen across the ACT used the owners' own key or fob, often as a result of a household burglary. Sometimes the home isn't even locked and the thief just walks on in.
Inspector Scott explained that while the link between household burglary and car theft has remained much the same over the years, the type of goods thieves now seek has changed.
He said thieves previously broke into homes to target once-expensive consumer goods such as laptops and televisions, and would steal the family car to carry the goods away. But these types of consumer goods now offer such poor resale on the black market that most criminals don't bother and instead target the car keys, jewellery, watches, cash and credit cards.
"These are opportunistic criminals. They will try a house entry or a car door to get access and then the car is made available to them," he said.
Across the ACT, 1125 vehicles have been reported stolen in the 10 month to the end of October this year, compared with 945 for the same period last year.
And curiously, the activity didn't ease during the most recent four-month lockdown period when most Canberra people were working from home.
Car theft is a common precursor to other crime types, some of them far worse than property crime. Last month a white ute and an Audi stolen from Canberra were involved in a serious incident just outside Cooma in which a NSW police officer attempting to pursue one of the thieves on foot was run down by an offender and injured.
NSW police formed Strike Force Varga and arrested three Canberra residents, all of whom are facing serious charges.
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