Victoria becomes the stolen car capital of Australia – The Sydney Morning Herald


For Michael Tallal, the most terrifying thing about being a carjacking victim is that it could happen again, at any time.

Mr Tallal was attacked by a group of men and bashed with a baseball bat in April, before having his car stolen. 


Police: ‘Grand Theft Auto’ culture behind attacks

Following several attacks around Melbourne police say a group of young people are replicating the behaviours of their action heroes. Vision courtesy Network Ten News.

The vicious attack has left the 29-year-old Avondale Heights man with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. And he is not alone.

New data shows Victoria is the car theft capital of Australia, leaving residents afraid for their safety and forcing them to drive with their doors locked.

In the 12 months to June 2016, there were more than 15,000 thefts of passenger and light commercial vehicles, according to the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council – a 35 per cent spike on the previous year.

During the same period, car thefts in NSW dropped by 13 per cent.

But the numbers come as no surprise to those who have been terrorised and forced to hand over their car keys. 

Mr Tallal is calling on the state government to increase police numbers and to legislate tougher penalties for those convicted of carjacking. 

Carjacking victim Michael Tallal wants tougher penalties for perpetrators.
Carjacking victim Michael Tallal wants tougher penalties for perpetrators. Photo: Facebook

“Police should be focusing on this issue … rather than chasing people for going 3km/h over the speed limit,” he said. 

“Criminals are roaming the streets free, as is the case in my situation.” 

Three men forced Ben van Mierlo, right, from his car at Southland shopping centre.
Three men forced Ben van Mierlo, right, from his car at Southland shopping centre. Photo: Supplied

Mr Tallal said encouraging people to drive with locked doors will do little to reduce the spate of carjackings that have rocked Melbourne recently, given criminals are becoming more creative and brazen with their methods. 

In his case, the perpetrators bumped his car from behind and attacked him when he got out of his vehicle to inspect the damage. 

A five-year-old girl was reunited with her father after a terrifying carjacking in August.
A five-year-old girl was reunited with her father after a terrifying carjacking in August. Photo: 7 News

Just this week, three men forced 21-year-old Ben van Mierlo from his car at Southland shopping centre in Cheltenham. The following day, police arrested a woman after two alleged carjackings and three attempted carjackings in Taylors Lakes in the city’s north-west.

Geoff Gwilym, executive director of Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, said thieves often steal cars to sell them for scrap metal and spare parts.

Car groups and victims are pushing for a ban on cash for scrap metal.
Car groups and victims are pushing for a ban on cash for scrap metal. Photo: Craig Abraham

He said the government needed to stop cash-for-scrap practices.

Police have echoed this call, asking the government to ban cash for scrap metal in December 2015. 

New data shows Victoria is the car theft capital of Australia.
New data shows Victoria is the car theft capital of Australia. Photo: Craig Abraham

The Victorian government is looking into the issue, with a report from the Victorian Law Reform Committee tabled in Parliament in May. 

Mr Gwilym said the NSW Parliament was currently considering banning cash payments for scrap metal, and Victoria should do the same. 

“This is a system that has been trialled and introduced in the UK, and has been shown to sharply reduce vehicle theft rates,” he said.

Mr Gwilym said that if NSW introduced a ban and Victoria did not follow suit, car thieves would simply move across the border.

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