Aria is a German backpacker staying in Byron Bay. For the least 3 months he has been waiting for his work permit to be renewed so he has been living off his savings and occasional help from his mum in Germany.
According to one local, the schoolies had attracted a veritable sea of blue to the area: "I've never seen anything like it before here. On Friday, there were cops on bikes, cops on horses, cops in vans, cops in normal cop cars, cops on the beach, cops in riot squad Land Cruisers."
Last Monday Aria was pulled over for a random breath test, found to not have his licence with him and copped a $106 fine.
So that he would not be booked again by the constabulary, Aria parked his car and walked home, 10 minutes away, to get his licence. As with many locals in the relaxed Byron Bay environment, he didn’t lock his car. He had done the same many times before. He retrieved his licence and walked back, retrieving his car.
To his surprise and dismay, he received another Penalty Notice in the mail for not locking the doors and securing the windows whilst leaving the car unattended. Another $106 fine.
For those unaware, Queensland, NSW and Victoria have laws along the above lines.
In New South Wales, Road Rules 2014, Regulation 213, Section 5 provides
“If the driver will be over 3 metres from the closest part of the vehicle and there is no-one left in the vehicle, the driver must:
(a) if the windows of the vehicle can be secured, secure the windows immediately before leaving the vehicle, and
(b) if the doors of the vehicle can be locked, lock the doors immediately after leaving the vehicle."
Some quick points:
- At first glance it may sound a bit silly or an unreasonable law about something that is, after all, your property.
- The rationale is to prevent theft. Vehicles left unlocked can easily be stolen, or stolen from, when left unlocked while you spend 10 minutes in the shop.
- Vehicle theft might be by car rebirthers or just joyriders. In Australia, it has been found that opportunistic thieves are responsible for about three out of every four stolen cars.
- Older cars with little security account for the majority of thefts. All it takes is a few simple tools and some basic knowledge, and most thieves can just hotwire a car and drive away.
- Vehicles stolen by professional car thieves are much less likely to be recovered, but joyriders will usually dump a stolen car once they are finished with it. While these vehicles are usually recovered within a day or two, they are often the worse for wear with substantial collision and/or mechanical damage.
- Furthermore, in a bid to remove DNA, fingerprints or other evidence that could help Police in their investigations, opportunistic thieves often vandalise or burn out a car’s interior.
- The theft affects not only you. It also results in insurance claims and ties up police resources.
- Car insurance companies usually require that policy holders take reasonable steps to safeguard and protect their vehicle. This means that if your car is stolen because you left it unlocked, your car insurance claim might be declined. Furthermore, the theft of personal items will usually only be covered if they were taken from a locked vehicle.
There appear to be no good reasons for leaving your car unlocked and plenty of good ones to secure it. Your choice.