Vehicle thieves put lives on line

Reckless car thieves who steal cars to commit aggravated burglaries and drive at high speeds are taking risks that could have fatal consequences. 

The city’s highest ranking police officer Superintendent Andrew Allen says this week’s crime crackdown on theft of motor vehicles is about catching offenders and increasing safety. 

An average of nearly seven cars a week were being stolen in the 12 months to March this year, National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council Statistics show. 

Thieves are stealing cars and number plates – a trend reflected across the state, Superintendent Allen said.

“In Ballarat we have seen vehicles not only being stolen but a number have also been dumped and burned,” he said.

“Stealing of cars is obviously upsetting and distressing for victims however it is also brings potentially fatal consequences.

“Whether a stolen vehicle is being driven at high speeds or is being used in other criminal activities such as aggravated burglaries or robberies, it is incredibly dangerous, risky behaviour that will not be tolerated.”

A Highway Patrol car was damaged when it was struck by a car with stolen plates which refused to stop when intercepted by police on Monday night. 

Police pursued the Holden hatchback but ended the pursuit shortly afterwards. No one was injured during the incident.

Crime Statistics Agency data revealed a 28 per cent increase in number plate theft between April-March 2015 and the same period this year. By March 309 number plates were reported stolen in the Ballarat local government area. Only 60 of those number plates were ever recovered. 

Superintendent Allen issued a warning to offenders on the run – they will be caught.

Victoria Police, Crime Stoppers and The Courier have released the images of six known offenders wanted over theft of motor car and burglary. 

“The message is clear to anyone with outstanding warrants,” said Superintendent Allen said.

“We know who you are, the community will tell us where you are. If you know you are wanted by police, come and see us before we come and see you.”

CrimeStoppers chief Sam Hunter has pleaded with anyone who knows the whereabouts of these offenders to think about the potential harm their offending could cause.