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  • Tamara Sheward

    TropicNow writer

    Email Tamara Sheward

    Cairns car thefts skyrocket after weekend stealing spree

    Residents are being urged to lock up and keep their keys hidden following a dramatic spike in ”opportunistic” vehicle thefts over the weekend.

    Police said that 17 cars had been stolen in the Cairns area over the weekend, with Whitfield, Mount Sheridan and Edge Hill being the hardest hit by thieves.

    There have been 28 cars stolen in the far north so far this month, which is already almost half the number of total vehicle thefts for April 2016 (57).

    “This is a very high number,” Senior Constable Russ Parker from the Cairns Crime Prevention Office told TropicNow.

    “We had some bad months late last year, but the numbers dropped off last month.

    “We thought the message might be getting through, but clearly it isn’t.”

    ‘The message’, according to Snr-Const Parker, is a simple one: lock it or lose it.

    “In some instances this weekend, we saw keys left in vehicles or left on outdoor furniture.

    “If there are keys lying around and people are snooping, they will find them, and they will take them.
    “In Cairns 30 or 40 years ago, we didn’t have to lock up,” he said.

    “But we do now: it’s 2017 and time to get with the program.”

    Snr-Const Parker said car theft in the far north was an opportunistic crime that could be heavily reduced if people took simple steps to reduce their chance of being targeted.

    “Lock your car, take your keys inside and hide them,” he said.

    “Don’t leave them on the kitchen bench or anywhere that can be seen from outside.

    “When thieves are going out, looking in windows with torches and they see keys sitting there, it’s an extra incentive for them to make their way inside.

    “If they don’t see yours, hopefully they just move on."

    Snr-Const Parker said there had been instances when people had forgotten to lock their car and left spare keys in the glove box or centre console.

    “First thing a thief will do is go through the car looking for keys of valuables.

    “On other occasions, people have their ‘good car’ locked inside a garage, with their other car unlocked in the driveway with the garage remote in that car.

    “From there, it’s simply a matter of opening the garage and entering the house to find the keys to that good car.”

    Snr-Const Parker said that a young offender, previously arrested on separate matters, had told police that he didn’t have to bother breaking into people’s houses any more.

    “This young fella would go out about 2-3am looking for opportunities.

    “He told us it would be extremely unusual for him not to find an open door in the first five houses he tried.

    “People are making this easier for thieves and they need to take away these kinds of temptations by simply locking up.”