THIEVING RAMPAGE: IS YOUR CAR NEXT
By MARY MANN
TWO cars a day, every day are targeted by thieves in our region.
In the past three months alone, criminals have stolen, or attempted to steal 161 cars, mainly in the Ballina, Lismore and Coraki areas.
Police say in many cases drivers are bringing the theft of their car upon themselves.
Police are warning locals to lock up their vehicles or risk falling prey to car thieves sweeping the Northern Rivers.
Crime prevention officer senior constable Michael Hogan said he was alarmed at the rising rate and urged people not to take vehicle security lightly. He said cars older than 10 years were a particular target because they were often not fitted with good security measures.
"The warning goes out that people really need to fit their vehicles with things like steering locks and alarms, or store them safely in secure places like a garage," he said.
"Most of the cars stolen are not taken from public places, but from people's driveways and on the street.
"Some people are even leaving their keys in the ignition when their car is parked in the driveway, making it too easy for thieves."
Police arrested a 22-year-old Goonellabah man recently after he stole a car and ended up in an accident.
The man stole the white single-cab Holden Rodeo from Coorabell on October 25.
On October 27, the man was driving the car at Evans Head when it collided with another car. He and another man ran from the vehicle and a short time later police arrested the driver.
He was charged with stealing the vehicle, as well as negligent driving, failing to exchange particulars, refusing a breath test, and driving without a licence. Police said the man had never held a driver's licence.
Police are investigating the matter and are looking for the other man who was in the stolen car when it crashed.
Snr Const Hogan said there was a group of car thieves who seemed to target one town after another, mainly moving between Ballina, Lismore and Coraki.
According to the NRMA, a car is stolen almost every five minutes somewhere in Australia.
Often they are taken for a joy ride, vandalised and then dumped.
Anyone with information about a stolen car should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.