Central Hunter police are struggling to keep up with the massive rate of car-related crime in the local area.
Theft from vehicle offences have rapidly increased in Maitland over the past five years, at an annual rise of more than 10 per cent.
Motor vehicle theft also remains a huge problem for police, with 238 offences in the 12 months to June 2017. This was the highest number of incidents in eight years.
In Cessnock, which is also part of the Central Hunter command, the problem is even worse.
Cessnock was the second highest area in the state for motor vehicle theft rates in the 12 months to June 2017.
In June alone, there were 87 thefts from vehicles in the Cessnock area – almost three per day.
Cessnock Council has taken action on the problem. Council recently moved to seek a report investigating how council officers can remove an abandoned vehicle that may be a fire or vandalism risk.
Car crime is the second biggest problem for local police behind domestic violence, according to acting crime manager Detective Sergeant Mitch Dubojski.
Sergeant Dubojski pointed out a quarry at Thornton as an example of the severity of the crime.
When The Mercury visited, there were at least seven burnt out cars strewn across the embankment and even more tyre tracks.
“It’s a regular dumping ground,” Sergeant Dubojski said.
Police use a number of strategies to combat the problem.
A fence has been installed around the Thornton quarry as a deterrent, CCTV is used to identify perpetrators and police also use social media to discover trends in car types and parts for sale.
Not only is stealing and dumping cars illegal – it is also dangerous. Police have confirmed that a car found in the line of fire at a recent bushfire at Black Hill was indeed stolen and abandoned.
“The dangers are astronomical,” Sergeant Dubojski said.