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Understanding why young people might steal cars

Nov 20, 2020

Researchers from the Swinburne University of Technology recently released a report prepared for the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council titled “Insights into Contemporary Young Offender Behaviour in Victoria”.  The aim of the report was to investigate the motivations and backgrounds of young people charged with violent motor vehicle theft to explore ideas for prevention from young people’s perspectives. 

15 young people serving a custodial sentence for violent motor vehicle offences were interviewed in the qualitative study.  The findings revealed that all of the young people came from disadvantaged backgrounds, the authors describing their life experiences as “highly complex and deeply traumatic”.  Direct quotes from the young people interviewed are used throughout the report to give a unique insight into each young person’s lived experiences. 

Recommendations include the development of more trauma informed response to young people, as well as enhanced harm minimisation approaches, and a focus on young peoples’ mental health.   Keeping young people engaged in some form of education, training or employment throughout their school-age years along with providing targeted psychological support for young people with emerging substance use issues was noted as crucial for preventing these types of offences from occurring. 

Download the full report here (3.1MD PDF)