- Project name: Theft from Motor Vehicle Reduction Strategy
- Organisation: City of Whittlesea
- Grant fund: Community Safety Fund
- Grant amount: $9590
- Co-contribution: $1536
- Project partners: Victoria Police, Neighbourhood Watch
Faced with consistently high rates of theft from motor vehicles, the City of Whittlesea and local police identified a need to promote crime prevention messages on permanent signage in local car parks across the municipality. The aim was to improve community awareness of the risk of leaving valuables in cars.
In consultation with local police, the council identified car parks in high-volume shopping centre and railway stations. 125 new signs were installed at the sites, reminding vehicle owners to “Remove It, Lock It, or Lose It”. These signs (developed in partnership with Victoria Police and Neighbourhood Watch) contained images of valuable items commonly left inside cars.
The project also ran community education sessions at local shows and festivals, Rotary, Neighbourhood Watch and Scout group meetings. Specialised sessions aimed at tradespeople, highlighting the dangers of tool theft, were also held at Bunnings Warehouse and local construction sites. During these sessions, staff distributed a variety of print information about reducing the risk of theft from motor vehicles, reaching an estimated 1448 community members and stakeholders.
The accompanying communication campaign included an advertisement and two articles in the local newspaper, and a council media release. The media release was also promoted on the council’s Facebook page for two weeks, where it was the second ‘most popular’ post for that period. The regular council publication “Whittlescene” included an article promoting the message, alongside tips to help prevent theft from cars.
Police conducted regular ‘audits’ of vehicles in car parks to identify the number of vehicles leaving valuables on display. Audits conducted before and immediately after the project showed a 37% decrease in vehicles leaving valuables on display, indicating an increased awareness and willingness by shoppers and commuters to remove valuable articles from vehicles.
Twelve months after the project, Council and police have continued periodic media reminders and the reduced rates have been maintained. There is some evidence that thefts from vehicle offences in the Whittlesea area have moved away from high volume car parks to residential streets and driveways, and Council is building on the close relationship established with local police to respond to this shift.