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An overview of the Comprehensive Auto-theft Research System (CARS) vehicle theft research

74 Leichhardt Street, Griffith, ACT, Paul Thomas
30 January 2007

Paul Thomas
Acting Director, Office of Crime Statistics
Director, National CARS Project


Motor vehicle theft is a major problem throughout the world and while some countries have recorded reductions in theft rates in recent year this reduction is not universal. Fortunately for us Australia has been at the forefront of initiatives to reduce motor vehicle theft which has seen our level of motor vehicle theft almost half in the last five years.

One of these initiatives was the establishment of a national centre to integrate vehicle theft data from a range of sources to facilitate the monitoring and research of vehicle theft trend and issues. Funded by the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council the Comprehensive Auto-theft Research System (CARS) provides these functions to government, industry and community stakeholders.

While a major focus of vehicle theft reduction strategies have been on increasing vehicle's security systems or tightening of insurance, registration and policing practices, relatively little attention has been placed on the offenders. This presentation will provide an overview of recent and current CARS research with a particular focus on understanding the offender.

About the speaker

Paul commenced work with the Office of Crime Statistics and Research (OCSAR) in 1990 initially managing OCSAR's Magistrates Court database. In 1994 he established the South Australian CARS database which integrates police, insurance, registration and vehicle manufacturer data relating to stolen vehicles. With funding from the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council, CARS was expanded into a national project and Australia's peak centre for vehicle theft statistics and research.

Paul has been a member of the of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) since 1996 including serving as Australasian Branch President and International Board member in 2003-2005.

In addition to his role as Director, National CARS project, Paul was appointed Deputy Director of OCSAR in 2002 and has responsibility for OCSAR's statistical monitoring and information services as well as the corporate functions of finance, human resources, and ICT. Since October 2006, Paul has served as Acting Director of OCSAR.