Australian Institute of Criminology

Skip to content

Motor vehicle theft and recovery in Australia

Crime facts info no. 112

ISSN 1445-7288
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, December 2005

Over the past four years the rate of stolen motor vehicles has declined significantly. In 2003-04 there were 88,030 vehicles stolen in Australia. Not unexpectedly trucks, plant/equipment and buses were the least likely to be stolen. Motorcycles were more likely to be stolen than any other type of vehicle, with a theft rate of 15 per 1,000 registrations, followed by vans, sedans and station wagons. Not only were motorcycles the most likely to be stolen they were also the least likely to be recovered; only 28 percent of stolen motorcycles being recovered during the course of the year. The percentage recovered for the remaining types of vehicles ranged from 72 percent for trucks to 83 percent for buses. There are also significant differences in the rate of theft for older and newer vehicles. Those manufactured in the 1980s recorded a theft rate of 14 thefts per 1,000 registrations compared with four thefts for 1990s models and three for 2000-2003 models. The recovery rates for older vehicles were higher than for more recent models. Of those vehicles manufactured in the 1980s, 83 percent were recovered, compared with 71 percent recovered for 1990s models and 60 percent for 2000-2003 models.

Rate of theft by type of vehicle, 2003–2004

Percentage of stolen vehicles recovered, by type of vehicle, 2003–2004

Source: National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council 2004. Motor vehicle theft in Australia: an annual statistical report from the National CARS database 2003/2004. Adelaide: NMVTRC.