Police in Cairns are pleading with motorists to hide their keys, as the number of car thefts nudges towards a record high.

773 cars have been stolen so far this year, while the previous annual record set last year was 782.

That's expected to be broken this week with almost five months of the calendar year remaining.

Police say it’s extremely concerning, particularly given the general young ages of the culprits.


“We are obviously concerned for the safety of the public, other lawful road users that happen to be on the roadways at the time that these young people are driving around,” said Detective Inspector Kevin Goan.

“We’re well above the state average … in terms of solving unlawful use of motor vehicles and recovering stolen vehicles.


Det Insp Goan said it’s a complex issue, with preventative measures involving many government and non-government agencies as well as police.

“There’s a lot of work for all of us to do,” he said.

“This is not solely a policing issue there are other agencies engaged in the work on juvenile crime.

“I see that the greater collaboration that happens across agencies and with the support services we will be able to bring these numbers down.”

However, he said the motoring public also has a large role to play.

“It is with the keys that the vehicle is stolen,” he said.

“Still quite often we see cars that have been stolen or unlawfully used where the keys have been hidden in the sun visor of the motor vehicle, sometimes they're left in the ignition, other times they’re left in the ashtray or under the floor mat.

“Our message is we need the public to be aware of where they’re placing their keys, who has access and if at all possible keep them out of sight of anyone who may unlawfully enter their residence to steal them.

“The message is not being heard.

“If they don’t have the keys they abandon any prospect of trying to steal them.”


Main points

  • The record for the highest annual number of cars stolen in the greater Cairns region will be broken this week
  • Police say too many motorists are making it easy for would-be thieves
  • They're pleading with people to lock their cars and hide their keys
We should never accept this as the new norm.
Det Insp Kevin Goan
Queensland Police