Australian Institute of Criminology

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The stolen vehicle parts market

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 215

Frances Gant and Peter Grabosky
ISBN 0 642 24246 1 ISSN 0817-8542
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, October 2001


In 2000, 139,000 motor vehicles were stolen in Australia. About three quarters of motor vehicle thefts are opportunistic, stolen for joy riding or transport, while one quarter are stolen for profit. Many that are stolen for profit end up as spare parts, and this paper attempts to delineate the stolen spare parts market in Australia and its dynamics. The study, which was based on interviews with a small number of offenders as well as with law enforcement officers, motor traders and insurance representatives, provides an overview of the end uses of stolen parts; factors which influence the demand for particular vehicles and their parts; the intersection between the legal parts industry and the illegal parts trade; a profile of organised offenders; and the movement of illicit vehicle parts. The paper also discusses the impact of the stolen parts trade on the legitimate trade, policing the illicit parts trade, and policy implications for reducing the risk of theft.