Ballarat car thefts and burglaries tackled with 'wishilockedit' campaign

Inspector Bruce Thomas and Neighbourhood Watch Victoria CEO Gillian Metz launch the wishilockedit.com campaign.
PICTURE: KATE HEALY

Inspector Bruce Thomas and Neighbourhood Watch Victoria CEO Gillian Metz launch the wishilockedit.com campaign. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

IT sounds like stating the obvious: urging people to lock their cars to deter thieves.

However the combined Victoria Police-Neighbourhood Watch Victoria wishilockedit.com campaign is intended to do exactly that, and it is necessary because of a soaring number of thefts from unlocked cars.

Ballarat Police Local Area Commander Bruce Thomas said there had been more than a thousand thefts reported from vehicles in the past financial year, in addition to about 300 cars being stolen. He said a sizable proportion of thefts were from cars left unlocked, particularly in home driveways.

“People are becoming complacent and leaving their vehicles unlocked. We want to put the thought into people’s minds to lock their cars when they leave them rather than come back later and say ‘I wish I locked it’,” Inspector Thomas said.

“At one crime scene Ballarat personnel went to, along a very well-to-do part of Sturt Street, there were a very sizable percentage of the cars (burgled) which were unlocked. 

“We know thieves will look for unlocked cars. A person will walk along a number of parked cars until they have success, and quite often they do. They will take anything: wallets, phones, jewellery or GPS units.”

Inspector Thomas said people could not assume any unlocked car would not be targeted, with “old bombs” as likely to be burgled as expensive, new cars.

Nor is a car parked in a driveway safer than one parked at a shopping centre. 

“At one crime scene...along a very well-to-do part of Sturt Street, there were a very sizable percentage of the cars (burgled) which were unlocked." - Inspector Bruce Thomas

“Supermarket car parks are an obvious target because there are so many cars there but you’d be surprised how many times we hear of cars being targeted in driveways,” he said.

“It is more common than you’d think. I’ve pulled up in a car space and looked over to the vehicle next to me and seen a handbag, wallet and mobile phone that was sitting on the seat of an unlocked car.

“My members find it very frustrating, especially when it is avoidable. And it is a massive inconvenience for the victim, especially if it is a phone or a wallet stolen.”

The campaign will run for 12 months. For further information: www.wishilockedit.com

gavin.mcgrath@fairaxmedia.com.au

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