OFF TRACK: Acting Senior Sergeant Lee Fortune talks about the rise in car thefts across Queensland and how vehicle owners can best protect themselves.
OFF TRACK: Acting Senior Sergeant Lee Fortune talks about the rise in car thefts across Queensland and how vehicle owners can best protect themselves. Andrew Korner

How tiny device could help police fight stolen car scourge

IPSWICH is not immune to the worrying increase in vehicle thefts reported across the state, and police are now calling on residents to do their bit to help in the fight to catch those responsible.

An additional 2100 vehicles were reported stolen from Queenslanders in the 2018-19 financial year compared with 2017-18, prompting police to encourage people to consider fitting GPS trackers to their cars, motorcycles, vans and trucks.

While it might not prevent thieves from stealing vehicles in the first instance, Ipswich Acting Senior Sergeant Lee Fortune says his experience with the district property crime squad showed him GPS tracking helped police recover vehicles with a minimum of fuss.

"One of the emerging technologies is GPS, and it is important for the public to be aware of this technology and the fact it is available,” Snr Sgt Fortune said.

"It greatly increases our chances of locating a stolen vehicle. It can be installed discretely under the dash of the car and can help us avoid pursuits and the use of stingers by locating vehicles while they are parked at an offender's home, for instance.”

A total of 16,322 vehicles were reported stolen across Queensland last financial year (2018/2019), up from 14,133 in the previous financial year.

In Ipswich, the number of stolen vehicles increased from 763 in the 2017-18 period to 825 in 2018-19.

Snr Sgt Fortune said thieves were still looking for easy targets.

"Police are continuing to see vehicles being stolen either opportunistically where the vehicle is left unsecured or through burglaries where keys are quickly located,” he said.

"We are encouraging vehicle owners to take a moment to think about their current security measures and whether they could be improved to reduce the risk of having their vehicle stolen.

"This could be as simple as keeping your keys in a hidden location within your home rather than in plain sight and ensuring your vehicle, home and business is secured at all times.”

On average, three quarters of all stolen vehicles are recovered in varying conditions.

But police say that figure could be improved with the community and authorities working hand in hand.

Snr Sgt Fortune said while there was a cost to installing a tracker, the owners of high-end or rare vehicles or fleets of vans or trucks would find it more economically viable.

"Theft of any kind is not acceptable but having a valuable possession such as the family car or the work truck stolen is devastating and costly,” he said.

"That is why we are continuing to roll out enforcement strategies such as using Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology to detect stolen vehicles.”

Beat the thieves

1. Always keep your vehicle locked and secured - even if you are only leaving it for a moment

2. Keep the keys to your vehicle in a hidden location

3. Remove all valuables

4. Consider installing a steering wheel lock, car alarm or immobiliser

5. Consider installing a GPS tracking device