2019 Australasian Awards and Travel Scholarship - Call for Applications
Note: This document will be update in late 2019.

Click the ‘View’ button to see a list of winners of this award.


AUS Branch - President’s Award

Nominations Deadline: Jan 31, 2020

All nominations should be sent to: Maurie Tong, c/o PO Box 541 Kalamunda WA 6926 Australia or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


The President’s Award recognises outstanding contribution by an individual or a team in either the reduction and deterrence of motor vehicle theft in Australia, the achievement of a significant result from an investigation in auto crimes, or a significant achievement in the detection of motor vehicle theft and/or fraudulent vehicle crime. 

Prior to 2012 this award was called the ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’.

Submissions could be for any project, initiative or investigation that deals with the reduction, prevention or investigation of motor crime, either at an international, national or local level.  This award is sponsored by NKG Management Services 

The recipient of the award will receive up to $1,500 towards the costs of the winner in attending the 2020 Annual Seminar and the presentation dinner.

For more details on the judging criteria, conditions and how to nominate please download the documents on the following page 2019 Australasian Awards and Travel Scholarship - Call for Applications
Note: This document will be update in late 2019.

Click the ‘View’ button to see a list of winners of this award.

Award Recipients

Name or Group
Operation Papa Wagon - Queensland Police
Operation Papa Wagon, Queensland Police - 2019 AB President's Award

Operation Papa Wagon, Queensland Police - 2019 AB President's Award. Det. Acting Sgt. Vesna Ciric accepting her award from Stan Zoletas, NKG Management Services (Award sponsor)

Operation Papa Wagon - Organised Crime Invetsigation Unit, Queensalnd Police Service
Team Members: Det. Acting Sgt. Vesna Ciric, Det Senior Sgt Tony Bristow, Det Sgt, Gary Perrett, Det. Senior Const. Kelly Manning, Senior Sgt. Dan Kwiatkowski.

In 2016, the Organised Crime Investigation Unit of the State Crime Command, Queensland were contacted by a member of public regarding a motor dealer who was selling a 2005 Phoenix Nomad caravan through the Gumtree auction site. The caravan was a statutory written off caravan however it was registered as a 2016 homemade caravan with a new Vehicle Identification Number.

As a direct result of this information a police operation codenamed ‘Papa Wagon’ was commenced. Detective Senior Constable Vesna CIRIC was assigned the carriage of the investigation and was tasked to investigate many statutory written off caravans being brought into Queensland then sold and registered as homemade caravans. Subsequent enquires were made through the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR), Manheim and Pickles Auction Houses and target 1 was identified as being involved in the re-birthing and sale of statutory written off caravans.

The investigation identified that target 1 was purchasing the statutory written off caravans mostly from New South Wales, bringing them into Queensland, removing the original Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and registration plates and replacing them with the new identifiers. Target 1registered these caravans stating that he had built them out of locally sourced materials. A Review of the documents that Target 1 submitted to the DTMR for the registration of those caravans revealed that on each document Target 1 was recorded as a representative lodging the applications for the registration on the complainant’s behalf. Target 1 also provided documents stating that he built these caravans from locally sourced materials.

Police surveillance identified that the suspect caravans still had original markings on them (eg. Jayco Eagle, Coromal Seca etc)

A review of documents that Target 1 submitted with the application for the registration of each caravan had Target 1 name on it and the original model of the caravan recorded on it.

During December 2016, search warrants were executed at Target 1's home and work address and 5 suspect caravans were located. One of these caravans had been re-identified while the other four still had the original identifications on them. Many documents were seized including original purchase documents which had clearly recorded on them that the caravans were statutory written off caravans and unable to be registered in Australia. Within these documents was a stock book which contained the purchaser’s names, original make and model of the caravan.

A review of the documents seized, and documents received from the auction houses, identified that Target 1 was a Motor Dealer who had purchased 166 caravans through Manheim and Pickles Auctions or private auctions. From these 166 caravans, 107 were purchased as statutory written off caravans. Investigators identified 99 suspect caravans spread across five QLD regions and interstate.

19 – Central Region
1 – Northern Region
32 – Brisbane Region
21 – Southern Region
14 – South Eastern Region
6 – New South Wales
2 – Victoria
1 – Australian Capital Territory

Assistance from interstate and federal law enforcement agencies were utilised for the caravan’s that had been sold and transferred interstate.

Investigators were able to locate and examine 96 of these caravans, from which 93 were confirmed as statutory written off. It was estimated that the total yield for the sold caravans totalled $1,264,000.00. Investigators interviewed and obtained statements from over 140 witnesses and charged Target 1 with 102 fraud related matters. The case is currently before the Queensland District Court.

Innovative methodologies

As part of the investigative strategy, a variety of traditional, non-traditional, covert and overt actions were undertaken by Police investigators to detect and gather evidence and bring Target 1 to justice.

During the investigation a variety of methodologies used to target the offender by police were utilised however these are not able to be disclosed due to sect.803 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000, ‘Protection of Methodologies’. Further to this, the matter is currently before the Queensland courts awaiting a result.

Investigators identified that examination of the 99 caravans would incur a cost of over $200,000.00 in towing and storage fees for the QPS as well as damage to the caravans. To avoid these costs Investigators established a memorandum of understanding between the DTMR, Fair Trading Authority(FTA), owners, forensic examiners and assisting police for the
examination to be done at owner’s residences. The arrangements were made for the examinations where one officer would stay and assist the Forensic Officer, provide safety and protect methodologies while the second officer conveyed the owners away from the caravan and obtain a statement for court and seized documents relevant to the case.

Investigators further identified a government slush fund operated through the FTA whereby victims could apply to re-coup their money if defrauded by a Motor Trader within Queensland. In cooperation with the Queensland and interstate Transport Departments, arrangements were made for the registrations of those 93 caravans to be cancelled.

Operation Papa Wagon influenced separate investigations by the FTA and the Australian Taxation Office(ATO). In cooperation with the FTA arrangements were made for packages containing information about the fund to be sent to the victims for remuneration purposes.

Application of Best Practice Investigation
Operation Papa Wagon demonstrated some of the best practice investigation techniques displayed by investigators in the auto theft field and clearly showed what can be achieved through the cooperation of various Commonwealth and State Law Enforcement agencies and private enterprise to achieve a positive outcome for the community. The cooperation and communication between the stakeholders ensured all partners were aware of the risks that were impacting upon the various parties and addressed strategies and directions to manage to mitigate those risks while ensuring the success of the investigation overall.

Complexity of the investigation
The target is a Motor Dealer and he was extremely sophisticated in relation to the rebirthing and avenues for registration of the caravans. The target was very cunning and skilled in convincing potential byers that what he was doing was legal and in accordance with the policies and procedures of Transport Departments.

The investigation was very complex extending across five Queensland police regions and jurisdictions in New South Wales, Victoria and Australian Capital Territory. Investigators were required to travel interstate and intrastate, to examine the caravans, interview witnesses and collect evidence. The operation was staffed by one full time investigator (Detective Senior Constable Vesna CIRIC) and sourced assistance from police jurisdictions including State Crime Command, Queensland regional police, interstate law enforcement agencies including New South Wales Police, Victorian Police and the Australian Federal Police.

Queensland Police Service had limited qualified vehicle examiners and had to compete with the priorities for qualified forensic officers to conduct the examination of those caravans. Arrangements were made for the assistance to be obtained from Regional and interstate vehicle examiners to expedite the forensic examination of the caravans. With the assistance rendered it still required over 12 months to complete the investigation.

During the Operation the suspect was identified as attempting to leave Australia. An operational decision was made and the suspect was arrested and taken off an international flight.

Investigators also had to manage complainants/witnesses from different backgrounds whose ages ranged from 20 to 95 years old, providing regular updates of the investigation, registration status and court process. This was a massive challenge for the investigators with 93 irate victims who could no longer use their caravans. The complainants were professionally managed with no complaints received. Cooperation and involvement of multiple agencies to achieve a result in the fight against auto crime.

Operation Papa Wagon demonstrated how cooperation between different states and National Law Enforcement Agencies (New South Wales Police, Victoria Police, Australian Federal Police) can improve the ability to detect, investigate, restrain assets and suppress targets which otherwise would not have been able to be done in such an effective manner and with outstanding results.

As a direct result of the thorough and professional investigation by Detective Senior Constable CIRIC during Operation Papa Wagon, exceptional results were achieved, the rebirthing of the statutory written off caravans by the target were stopped and new procedures are in place preventing the re-occurrence of this by other motor traders.

Operation Papa Wagon directly influenced the widespread review of DTMR practices and changes to the requirements for the issue of new Vehicle Identification Numbers. It also resulted in the tightening the registration of written off vehicles to ensure they are not easily accessible by criminally minded motor traders.

Operation Wagon had influenced and assisted Fair Trading Australia in conducting a separate investigation into dealings of the target as a Motor Dealer with intention to stop him operating. Operation Wagon had also influenced and assisted Australian Taxation Office in conducting a separate investigation in relation to the targets taxation fraud offences.

During the Operation investigators liaised, conducted enquires and obtained assistance of other agencies including Manheim and Pickles Auctions, private auction houses, Gumtree, Ebay, New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services, VicRoads Victoria, Access Canberra, ACT, Suncorp, Allianz, IAG, QBE, RACQ, WFI and YOUI Insurance companies to locate, identify, gather evidence. Expert analysis and examination of documents was also comprehensively and meticulously conducted to ensure a successful outcome for prosecution in court.

Operation Autounion - Vehicle Crime Squad, Victoria Police

2018 President’s Award

Sponsored by NKG Management Services


This investigation undertaken by the Victorian Police Vehicle Crime Squad in close consultation with IAATI partners involving systematic organised crime relating to staged collisions and vehicle theft. Three accused were in the automotive repair industry.

As a  result  of this investigation a  sophisticated  highly organised criminal network was dismantled acting  as  a  deterrent  to  other  potential  criminal  syndicates  attempting  illicit wealth  creation.   The investigation  also identified a  lack of regulation  relating to how third  party  recovery agents operate and  'independent'  loss  assessments  are  conducted  within  the  industry.    The investigation also highlighted an illicit business model involving panel beating businesses; hire car businesses, theft of vehicles and sale of parts Online combined with fraudulent staged collisions. It is anticipated that the findings of  this  investigation  will  have  a   positive  impact  in  assisting  insurance  companies against future attempts of fraud relating to staged collisions.

Members of The Victorian Police Vehicle Crime Squad receiving the 2018 President’s Award

Members of The Victorian Police Vehicle Crime Squad receiving the 2018 President’s Award

Synergy Repairs - Mission Australia

2017  IAATI Australasian Branch President's Award -

Synergy Repairs is an example of world’s best practise in the establish of a social enterprise initiative that has proven it is able to take young car crime offenders and provide them with life skills, on the job technical training, work experience and support.   Synergy has demonstrated it can survive without ongoing funding from governments or corporate sponsors while curtailing recidivism, and successfully placing graduates in employment, acceptance into TAFE courses or encouraging them to return to school.

The team from Mission Australia's Synergy Repairs receiviing the2017 President's award from the Award sponsor Nick Gianoudis (far right),  NKG Management Services.


The following pages about Synergy Repairs have been taken from the 'Synergy Automotive Repairs Program - Process Evaluation Report' Prepared for Mission Australia by Dr. Monica Thielking and Associate Professor Jeffrey Pfeifer. https://carsafe.com.au/assets/Synergy_Evaluation_Report_Final__3May2016.pdf
Synergy Repairs (social enterprise) for young recidivist offenders:

On any day there are around 1,000 young people held in juvenile detention nationally and a very high proportion of them are there as a result of motor vehicle offences. Detention is costly – keeping a young person in secure care costs more than $440,000 a year – and its impact on post-release re-offending is open to debate. Recidivist offenders are often returned to the community without the skills or support required to leave their former lifestyle behind.

In larger Australian cities it is not uncommon for a ‘proficient’ young thief to have stolen more than 300 cars by his or her late teens. High-rate vehicle theft has also been shown to be a strong indicator of a young person’s likely involvement in other forms of crime. Car crime also kills, with more than 40 theft-related fatalities across Australia in the past five years. Sixteen of those deaths were young people between the ages of 10 and 19.

For these reasons, the NMVTRC remains an advocate for the expert design and delivery of diversionary programs for young vehicle theft offenders based around technical training and the development of trade skills.

Young offenders have a chance to turn their lives around through the commercially based social enterprise Synergy Repairs. Synergy is a unique partnership between Mission Australia, the Suncorp Group and the NMVTRC to deliver technical training and work experience for offenders aged 16–20 with a view to them securing full-time employment in the repair sector.

All work is supervised by an experienced, trade-qualified workshop manager and two full-time spray painters and panel beaters and must meet the same quality standards of other Suncorp repairers.

Synergy Repairs has now been operating for 2½ years and Mission Australia and the Suncorp Group have implemented a refined operational model to smooth workflows, address workforce planning issues and assure its financial security.

An independent evaluation by an expert in youth mental health and well-being, Dr Monica Theilking (May 2016), confirmed its effectiveness in curtailing recidivism, imparting life skills and providing employment pathways.



In a world first, and after more than three years of negotiation and planning, Synergy Repairs became operational in June 2014 in partnership between Mission Australia, Suncorp Insurance and the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council.  The Synergy partnership between the three stakeholders (social service, industry and government) combines three overarching goals:

1.              Reducing car-related crimes;

2.              Social justice and support for young people involved in car-related crimes; and

3.              Customer satisfaction and sustainable business development related to the car repair industry.

Synergy is a bold and state-of-the art response to responding holistically and innovatively to a social and community problem that combines the needs and resources of a number of stakeholders who are either impacted by motor vehicle offending or who support and seek to change those who commit them.


Synergy has been developed as a social enterprise with the intention of achieving independent commercial viability and while Synergy is intended to operate as a juvenile justice diversionary initiative, the program does not currently receive justice funding. Synergy was established with initial funding of $750,000 from the NMVTRC, as well as significant contributions from Mission Australia. In 2012, Equino conducted an evaluation of the estimated costs and revenue of the program, to support the decision making process on the viability of establishing a Smash Repair Enterprising Program (SREP). This report concluded that there would be positive cash flow covering the operating costs of Synergy in Year One, with estimated revenue being $1,071,250 in Year One, compared to an operating budget of $925, 350. Furthermore, the estimated savings for Mission Australia Victoria Fleet Vehicles was expected to be $20,407. This positive cash flow was expected to continue in Year Two and Year Three.


Program Description:

The Synergy Program is based in North Melbourne and operates as a fully commercial panel shop, offering a full suite of smash repair services carried out by Synergy staff trainers, who are assisted by young people in the program. In addition to gaining the practical experience and employability skills needed to commence a panel beating or spray-painting apprenticeship, participants may also work toward a relevant qualification. Participants complete a Certificate II in Paint and Panel delivered by educators from Kangan Technical and Further Education (TAFE) one day per week on site. Young people also gain on-the-job training and work experience alongside qualified and experienced auto industry professionals and are supported by a team of training and employment specialists. Synergy, through its relationship with Suncorp, has access to 91 repairers in their network, most of which have made a commitment to take on apprentices after graduating from the program. It is the aim of Synergy that these graduates will be placed in apprenticeships within their area of residence.

The pre-apprenticeship training was initially intended to take six months to complete, after which participants would be assisted by Synergy employment workers to find a relevant apprenticeship opportunity. However, in light of the significant disadvantage faced by participants, the program now operates with a more tailored approach to suit individual participants’ skills and ability (i.e., a combination of required skills and readiness to join the main stream labour market). Program completion is now based on satisfactory attainment of required skills (e.g., completion of the pre-apprenticeship training program and placement in a suitable apprenticeship) rather than according to the length of time the participant has been in the program. At this stage there is no upper limit to how long an individual can take to complete the Synergy program, and young people are able to continue to receive program support and mentoring for 2 years post-graduation from the Synergy Program.


Program Components:

Referral: Young people are referred to the Synergy Program through Mission Australia, Victoria Police or Juvenile Corrections.

Synergy Program: Young people participate in the pre-apprenticeship training program where they complete modules of a Certificate 2 in Panel Beating with Kangan Batman TAFE.

Placement: On attainment of competencies and indicators of employment readiness, young people graduate from the Synergy Program and are then placed into a 4-year apprenticeship with an employer.

Placement support: Young people continue to receive program support and mentoring for 2 years post-graduation

Ongoing support: Young people are given the opportunity to return to Synergy for further support if the placement breaks down.


In addition to the formal education and training components, the Synergy Program also focuses on building participant life skills and personal development, setting it apart from other juvenile offending diversion programs. Employment and Training Officers provide participants with practical support for issues that range from calling young people to remind them to attend the workshop, providing housing assistance or court support, and talking with them about problematic drug and alcohol use. The Employment and Training Officer is also responsible for ensuring that participants are also able to meet their mandated justice obligations and attend appointments related to their mental health, drug and alcohol and/or housing support needs.


The program currently is able to take on eight participants at a time and generally runs at full capacity with good levels of participant attendance. Here is some background material and summary data.


Total number of participants to date:  57                                                   

Total number who have gained the full qualification*:  30                         

Total number placed in an apprenticeships: 17                                            

Total number gained employment (not apprenticeship): 8                     

Total number placed in to further training:  5

Now in training:  8

*a number of participants did not complete the program as they successfully gained employment or an apprenticeship during the program.


The ‘Synergy’ Social Enterprise – Challenges and Opportunities

Synergy operates with a strong focus on personal and professional mentoring for participants. The participants present with a wide range of issues and needs, including learning disabilities, low educational attainment, mental health issues, substance use issues, unstable housing or homelessness, financial problems and a criminal history. Whilst the intended social and personal client outcomes from participation in Synergy is an important and worthwhile aim to strive for, there still remains a challenge of operating the Synergy Program as a social enterprise, whilst sustaining a financially viable business.


The most successful employment-motivated social enterprises are those where the business is labour intensive, skill acquisition is quick, and there are skill shortages and clear pathways to employment (Social Traders, 2011). While the Synergy Program is well-positioned according to these indicators, the additional running costs associated with also being a workplace integration social enterprise for disadvantaged young people can create additional financial strains (Social Traders, 2011). This strain is offset at Synergy by having skilled and qualified staff who do the majority of the work to a high industry standard, with young people assisting on tasks by following a graduated competency approach to skill acquisition and application.


The challenge remains, however, that without recurrent external funding, Mission Australia has responsibility for the ongoing economic risk of Synergy, with the financial viability of the business dependent on the workshop operation (Spear & Bidet, 2005). There are several factors that may negatively affect both the running costs and the commercial operation of Synergy. With profitability in the auto industry based on productivity, variable workflows lead to potential unreliable income. The partnership with Suncorp has positively addressed this issue, and the continued flow of vehicles from Suncorp and its subsidiaries (along with any external referrals), resulting from positive customer feedback is an indication of the high quality of the work completed by Synergy staff and youth trainee participants. Furthermore, whilst the smash repair industry itself is showing very gradual decline in forecasted employment rates, the industry is going through an adjustment due to consolidation and partnerships with Insurance providers (Deloitte Access Economics, 2014).


Process Evaluation

The second anniversary saw the launch of the program’s Process Evaluation Report prepared by Dr Monica Thielking and Associate Professor Jeffrey Pfeifer of Swinburne University. The evaluation was overwhelmingly positive. Key findings included that the program is valued by participants as a way to get into employment and to get ‘back on track,’ that participants value the mentoring relationships with trainers and the opportunity to pursue their love of cars in an adult ‘work’ environment and that the program had a transformative effect as time management, confidence and communication skills improved amongst participants while less time was spent socialising with peers who continue to engage in criminal activity. Dr. Thielking’s key findings are included as appendix 1 to this nomination.



Synergy Repairs is the world’s first commercial enterprise delivering on-the-job technical training, work experience and support to young car crime offenders.  It is provides a blueprint for how government, industry and not- for- profit organisations can work together to address a major problem and provide win-win outcomes for all involved. 


Its financial performance is commercial in confidence but it is trading on its own resources.  and does not rely on any government funding. Thus unlike many other crime prevention programs which require ongoing  funding from governments or corporate partners to survive, Synergy Repairs is sufficient.   The NMVTRC, Mission Australia and Suncorp have demonstrated that with the support of the committed partners, the right staff and a well prepared business plan it is possible to develop a crime prevention program that after some initial setup and seed funding, can be self- sustainable and produce positive outcomes for young offenders, the community and industry.



Appendix 1:    Process Evaluation - Key Findings

1.       The Synergy program is innovative and has the opportunity to offer long-term positive outcomes to young people.


2.       The program is valued by the participants as a way into employment and to get young people ‘back on track’.


3.       Young people value the mentoring relationships with trainers and the opportunity to participate in an adult ‘work’ environment where they are able to pursue their passion for cars in a productive manner.


4.       Those working in the program, as well as those participating, felt that Synergy provided a good work experience which allowed skills beyond panel beating to be gained, such as time management, an improvement in self-confidence and communication skills, and an increase in general social participation skills needed for everyday living.


5.       Those working in the program, as well as those participating, spoke about the ‘transformative’ effect that the Synergy program had on participants, particularly around shifting unhelpful youth attitudes about participation in crime and young people socialising less with peers who continue to engage in criminal activity.


6.       There is a high degree of self-reported mental health problems in this cohort of young people as well as housing issues, which need to be addressed in programming. Low education attainment levels also need to be taken into account when designing training modules for this group.

Police Initiative ‘Refocuss’ - New South Wales Police

2016  President's Award

Sponsored by NKG Management Services


2016 Awards Dinner - NSW Police Motor Unit with their two awards for the night - Investigation of the Year for Strike Force Granite and President's award for Police Initiative 'Refocuss'

Operation Discover - Vehicle Crime Squad, Victoria Police

2015 President’s Award

Sponsored by NKG Management Services.


Task Force Discover was established to examine the significant Profit Motivated Vehicle Theft in Victoria and how the motor wrecking and scrap metal industries may facilitate the problem. Data provided by The National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council demonstrated that 2562 passenger and light commercial (PLC) remained unrecovered in Victoria in 2013, which was a 21% increase over the previous 5 years. The Task Force was an inter-agency operation lead by Victoria Police.

The Task Force discovered non-compliance within the motor wrecking and scrap metal and scrap metal dealers, as to the recording of movement of PLC’s through their industries, with one of the largest issues being the cash payment for scraped PLC’s. With the poor record keeping there was an inability to identify those disposing of large amounts of scrap metal.

This was an outstanding example of an proactive inter-agency approach and I encourage you all to download and read the report produced by VicPol summarising the findings of Operation Discover. To download the Task Force Discover report please use the link: http://www.police.vic.gov.au/retrievemedia.asp?Media_ID=108408

Members of the Vehicle Crime Squad receiving their award from the award sponsor, Nick Gianoudis, from NKG Management Service

Insurance Council of Australia - Insurance Fraud Bureau of Australia

2014 President's Award

Sponsored by NKG Management Services

Laurie Ratz, Insurance Cuuncil of Australia and Insurance Fraud Bureau of Australia recieving his award from Award sponsor Nick Guianous from NKG Management Services.

Stop Car Theft Program - SA Police and Royal Automobile Association of SA

2013  President's Award

Sponsored by Maxim Forensic Locksmiths

2013 marks only the second year that the President’s Award was offered as a category for submission, designed to recognise any investigation, program or initiative designed to detect, prevent or investigate auto crime.

The judging panel of Ms Candice Gauci of sponsor Maxim Forensic Locksmith Services, former IAATI President Craig Petterd and immediate Past President Dennis Connor scored each submission, with the final decision ratified by Australian Branch President Mark Bennedick. 

This year’s winner was announced by Maxim Forensic Locksmith Services representative Ms Candice Gauci as the ‘Stop Car Theft Program’, a joint initiative between South Australia Police and the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia to address the rising incidence of motor vehicle crime in South Australia. The ‘Stop Car Theft Program’ is a multi-faceted approach to dealing with auto crime in that it utilises the deployment of ‘target’ vehicles into known hot spots for motor vehicle crime, to detect and apprehend key suspects, as well as the development of training and education programmes for those responsible for investigating auto crime.

The ‘Stop Car Theft Program’ is an admirable demonstration of a successful long term stakeholder partnership that is achieving fantastic results in the prevention, detection and investigation of auto

Ross Park, Glenorchy City Council, Tasmania

2012 President's Award

2012 marks the inaugural Presidents Award – a new category designed to recognise achievement in the detection, prevention and/or investigation of auto crime. Being the President’s Award, as the name suggests the final discretion for picking a winner fell to our Branch President, Mark Bennedick, with the assistance of the judging panel to provide a shortlist of nominees. Mark was unable to pick just one winner, and decided that there were two nominees who deserved the award. 

The second recipient of the President’s Award is Mr Ross Park, from Glenorchy City Council. Ross was recognised for his innovative ‘Choose Your Ride’ video, a project in conjunction with the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council. The video is aimed at 9-14 year olds, and deals with the consequences of getting involved in car crime. The concept was developed from Ross’ real life observations in dealing with the problem on the ground.

Many thanks to the judges who helped IAATI’s Australasian Branch President determine the winner of the year’s Investigation of the Year – Dennis CONNOR (Immediate Past President IAATI Australasian Branch); Les Fuller (Forensic Locksmith, Maxim Forensic Services) and Neil Baker (Product Compliance Manager Technical Service Operations Toyota Motor Corporation Australia).

Ross Park joint recipient of the 2012 President's Award
L to R: International 3rd Vice President Heidi Jordan; Australasian President Mark Bennedick;Ross Park; International 1st Vice President John O’Byrne

Project Gypsy - Queensland Police
Project Gypsy 2012 Presidents Award

Project Gypsy 2012 Presidents Award L to R: Mark Bennedick; DS Naomi Cornish; DS Renee Kurtz

2012 President's Award

2012 marks the inaugural Presidents Award – a new category designed to recognise achievement in the detection, prevention and/or investigation of auto crime. Being the President’s Award, as the name suggests the final discretion for picking a winner fell to our Branch President, Mark Bennedick, with the assistance of the judging panel to provide a shortlist of nominees. Mark was unable to pick just one winner, and decided that there were two nominees who deserved the award. 

The first recipient was the Queensland Police Service Vehicle Crime Unit for Project Gypsy, accepted by Detective Sergeants Naomi Cornish and Renee Kurtz. Project Gypsy is a multi-faceted
approach the investigation and identification of caravan and trailer theft. In addition to recovering 5 stolen campers/trailers, the Project Gypsy team are working with manufacturers, Queensland Transport Authorities, insurers and industry bodies to enhance the processes and legislation for the registration of campers and trailers to assist in the reduction of rebirthing.

Many thanks to the judges who helped IAATI’s Australasian Branch President determine the winner of the year’s Investigation of the Year – Dennis CONNOR (Immediate Past President IAATI Australasian Branch); Les Fuller (Forensic Locksmith, Maxim Forensic Services) and Neil Baker (Product Compliance Manager Technical Service Operations Toyota Motor Corporation Australia).


L to R: Mark Bennedick; DS Naomi Cornish; and DS Renee Kurtz

Queensland Police Vehicle Crime Unit and Organised Crime Investigation Unit
2011 Outstanding Achievement Award, Queensland Police

Winners of the Outstanding Achievement Award, Queensland Police, from the left, Det. Acting Senior Sgt. Peter Ziser, Det. Sgt. Naomi Cornish, Det. Sgt. Renee Kurtz

2011 Outstanding Achievement Award

Winner: Queensland Police Vehicle Crime Unit and Organised Crime Investigation Unit - Investigation Team: Detective Inspector Mark Ainsworth, Det. Acting Senior Sergeant Peter Ziser, Det. Sergeant Naomi Cornish, Det. Sergeant Renee Kurtz.

In January 2010 the Vehicle Crime Unit within the Organised Crime Investigation Unit (OCIU) embarked on a project aimed at the Marine Crime Industry.  It was found that traditional auto theft offenders were regularly stealing high value caravans and boats and utilising well tested and proven methods of vehicle rebirthing to conceal their activities.  In response to these identified deficiencies initiatives that have been developed and are being implemented to address the Marine Crime issues include:

  • A National Marine Crime Conference
  • The creation of a National Stolen Vessel database.
  • Registration deficiencies have been identified and research commenced in establishing best Practice model.
  • Training packages were developed with regards vessel identification and the investigation of marine crime.
  • A Marine Crime webpage.

Research has identified the most prominent vessels stolen and inspections have begun with those manufacturers. A further by-product of these inspections was that advice was able to be provided on how their identification of their vessels could be enhanced. These suggestions were enthusiastically adopted by the Manufacturers.

  • Delivered presentations at Mallorca, Auckland and Perth on Marine Crime issues in Australia and shared resources to enhance investigative capabilities.
  • Extensive communications have resulted in the projected formation of an Australasian Chapter of the International Association of Marine Investigators (IAMI).
  • The development of a Marine Crime team within the Vehicle Crime Unit umbrella to provide a specialist response to marine crime.  Vehicle Crime unit has gone from a staffing strength of two to a staffing of nine, which reflects the commitment to these vehicle related crime class by the QPS.  The unit regularly seizes stolen luxury wakeboard boats, jetskis, motorcycles, caravans, earth moving equipment.

Winners of the Outstanding Achievement Award, Queensland Police, from the left, Det. Acting Senior Sgt. Peter Ziser, Det. Sgt. Naomi Cornish, Det. Sgt. Renee Kurtz

Region 3 Vehicle Theft Task Force - Victoria Police

2010 Outstanding Achievement Award

Winner: Region 3 Vehicle Theft Task Force, Victoria Police.

The winner of the 2010 Outstanding Achievement Award this year is a police task force which is responsible for an area of 65000 square kilometres.  The area they are responsible for has a larger than average number of Motor vehicle repair and wrecking businesses operating and statistically over the years it has shown to have a high incidence of vehicle related crime.

This team is made up of one detective sergeant, two detective senior constables, two uniform personnel and an analyst. It has the capability to conduct quick and pointed operations to disrupt organized vehicle crime. However due to the small size of the unit a range of initiatives have been implemented over the last couple of years to increase its efficiency and effectiveness.

Some of the initiatives are -

  • Routine inspections of Motor Vehicle Repairers and wreckers.
  • The use of side scanning sonar in major metropolitan rivers to detect dumped motor vehicles and common dumping areas.
  • Working with council to ensure a list of abandoned vehicles collected is sent to the task force for identification purposes.
  • The use of a ‘Bait Car’
  • The recent trial of an Automated Number Plate Recognition System.
  • The review of CCTV surveillance footage
  • Active campaigns for legislative changes to reflect those already implemented in NSW and Western Australia.

Overall this task force has been innovative and focused on tackling serious vehicle crime, its associated fraud and the use of vehicles in crime. As a result vehicle theft in this area has decreased by 43%.

L - R:  Detective Senior Constable Laurie Noonan and Acting Sergeant Rob Pama from the Region 3 Vehicle Theft Task Force, Victoria Police.

Barry Woolven South Australia Police

2009 Outstanding Achievement in the Reduction of Vehicle Theft Award

The winner of the Outstanding Achievement in the Reduction of Vehicle Theft Award was Sergeant Barry Woolven.

Sergeant Woolven and has a long standing commitment to reducing vehicle crime. His current role involves conducting research as well as the development and implementation of strategies to support vehicle crime prevention throughout South Australia. Sergeant Woolven has implemented numerous education and awareness programs as well as innovative means to prevent crime while providing support to victims.

One of Sergeant Woolven's most significant achievements has been the introduction of strategies to catch offenders who leave petrol stations without paying for fuel.

His strategies encourage the reporting of motor vehicle related offences, awareness raising, reducing vulnerability and the use of traditional and innovative means to prevent car theft whilst providing support to the victims. His contribution assisted South Australia to record the highest percentage decrease of 20% in motor vehicle theft during 2008.


Harry Rakintzis (left) presents the 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award to Sergeant Barry Woolven, South Australia Police.

Identitek Systems Pty Ltd

2008 Outstanding Achievement Award


Winner: Identitek Systems Pty Ltd. for their work in developing the first secure compliance label that meets the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council’s (NMVTRC) tough technical specifications.

Accepted by: Mr. David Padula, Director, Identitek Systems

Improving the standard of vehicle identification at the point of manufacture is a central element of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council’s  integrated theft reduction strategy.  The traditionally poor standard of vehicle identification has:

  • greatly contributed to the ease with which criminals have been able to convert stolen vehicle into cash; and
  • a significant “downstream” impact on the ability of transport agencies and police to detect suspect vehicles.

The NMVTRC estimates that the cloning or re-identification of stolen vehicles returns criminals tens of millions of dollars annually.

Identitek System’s secure compliance label represents a major breakthrough in establishing a new baseline in improved vehicle identification technology in Australia. 

The label’s unique security features ensure that it—

  • cannot be transferred between vehicles (or the information on it altered) without easy detection;
  • cannot be copied, and is easy to authenticate in the field by non-scientific, non-destructive and practicable means; and
  • is long lasting and damage resistant under typical in-vehicle environmental conditions.

Most importantly is had been independently tested and certified as meeting the NMVTRC’s exacting technical specification—the only label to have passed this hurdle.

It has been a long journey for Mr. David Padula and his staff at Identitek, one  which first commenced the conceptual development of a truly secure label in 2002.  Finally, after successfully meeting a wide range of significant technical and commercial challenges, Identitek Systems secured contracts with select importers in late 2007 that will see the label progressively introduced to their vehicles sold in Australia from mid-2008.

The Australasian branch commends David and his team at Identitek Systems on its innovation and persistence a believes they are a very worthy winner of the 2008 award.

Glenorchy City Council, Tasmania
U-Turn, Brisbane YMCA

2006 Outstanding Contribution To The Reduction Of Vehicle Theft In Australasia

The category for IAATI Outstanding Contribution to the Reduction of Motor Vehicle Theft is a diverse one. It is open to all law enforcement agencies, insurers, manufacturers and other relevant stakeholders for any initiative that active reduces any type vehicle crime.

Winner of the Award:  Brisbane YMCA / U-Turn program

The recipients of this year’s trophy are a youth diversionary program that seeks to change the lives of your people involved in vehicle crime. It helps to them to break the cycle of offending and learn practical skills that can help them start their lives ion a more positive path.

This particular program delivered outstanding results in its first 12 months of operation by setting new benchmarks for participant retention, graduation and work placement rates and non-relapse to offending. 

Of 61 participants to the end of 2005, 31 were awarded a TAFE certificate. After completing the program, 16 were employed full time, 1 was employed part time  and 3 returned to school.

The following is an extract from the award submission the panel received. It’s a case study on one young man – we’ll call him David – who was enrolled in the program:

David entered the program with an extensive criminal history, and was known amongst other young people as a prolific offender with a reputation for meting out rough justice. It was evident when he first arrived that this was the image that he was more than happy to perpetuate.

Initially he was difficult to manage – angry, argumentative and cynical about the program. Staff found it challenging to deal with his confrontations with the entire group looking on to see ‘who would win’. Staff pointed out that if he could present a valid case instead of just mouthing off, we would consider his request….at which point David suddenly became very adept at debating.

During his time in the program, David gradually developed a sense of humour and earned the respect of all staff. Despite taking up more time than any other participant, youth workers found that he was very reasonable and could be relied on to do the right thing.

Since graduating from the program, David has not only stopped offending, he is working 14 hour days, 7 days a week and has bought a house with his girlfriend. He regularly visits program staff to give updates on how things are going, and speaks to current participant about turning his life around.

Not long ago one of the program staff asked David whether the program had anything to do with where he is now. He burst out laughing and exclaimed “Are you kidding. If it wasn’t for you guys, I’d be in jail or dead by now”. 

Lisa Young (Branch Vice President) presents the Outstanding Contribution Award to Michelle Venables from the Brisbane YMCA U-Turn program.


Seven Certificates of Merit were also presented in this category, including:


Certificate of Merit:  New Zealand Security Association

The First Certificate of Merit this evening is awarded to a professional Association who represent security professionals in NZ. The New Zealand Security Association.              

In 2003 suppliers and manufacturers of Vehicle security products approached NZSA to develop a grading system for their products. This system would extend to the installers of vehicle security products. A special interest group was set up to launch the program. The star Rating system was launched with the support of Government, NZ Insurance council, police and other relevant stakeholders. 

This program has been operating for two years and it is accepted within the industry that the program is reducing vehicle theft in NZ.

The star-rating program introduced the following-

  • A five star rating system for all registered Vehicle Security Products;
  • A technical committee to inspect and grade the products;
  • Registration of installers;
  • Competency exam and guidelines for installers to obtain certification;
  • In December 2004 the NZ Government announced that all imported vehicles up to 15 years old must be fitted with Immobilisers. The NZSA is working with stakeholders to ensure the products they use are consistent with their Star Rating Standards.


Certificate of Merit:  Crime Reduction Unit (New Zealand Ministry of Justice)

The 2nd Certificate of Merit goes to a very worthy New Zealand entrant – the Crime Reduction Unit, New Zealand Ministry of Justice. Over the last two years the CRU has developed and commenced implementing a comprehensive National Vehicle Crime Reduction Programme (NVCRP) which will have a significant effect on vehicle theft in both the short and long terms.  

The research & review schedule for this program was largely conducted by Ben Young, and included consultation with experts in Australia, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, South Africa and America, as well as representative from a range of public and private local organizations.

The major features of program are the introduction of universal fitting of immobilisers and use of Whole of Vehicle Marking on newly imported cars and light vehicles. Other initiatives under the Vehicle Crime Reduction Programme are:

  • Creation of a Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Group, comprising government and industry representatives to monitor the initiatives and recommend reforms;
  • An Enhanced Vehicle Deregistration System to make it harder for criminals to use registration plates and VIN from deregistered cars; and
  • Joining Australia's Comprehensive Auto Theft Research System (CARS) to integrate, for the 1st time in New Zealand, data from police, insurers and the LTSA.

This increased focus and attention to vehicle theft issues will result in significant reductions in New Zealand’s levels of vehicle theft over the next decade.


Certificate of Merit:  Det. Dennis Connor (SAPOL)

The next certificate recognises the efforts of our current President Dennis Connor.

Dennis has been the South Australian Police representative on the South Australian Vehicle Theft Reduction Committee between 1997 – 2005, the representative of SAPOL on the National Theft Reduction Council between 1998 - 2005 and of course the current IAATI President.

Dennis has contributed to the reduction of vehicle theft in many ways including:

  • Representing SAPOL, Drug & Organisational Crime investigation Branch;
  • Highlighting to the SAVTR committee the deficiencies with the Transport SA Vehicle Identity Inspection Station;
  • Working with other parties on the introduction of the Transport SA 3 Tier vehicle identity Inspections;
  • Training Workshops with Transport SA vehicle inspectors;
  • Participation in media campaigns to raise public awareness.
  • And has delivered numerous presentations in relation to vehicle theft.


Certificate of Merit:  Operation Halite (ACT Policing, AFP)

The winner of the 4th Certificate of Merit in the category of “Outstanding Contribution to the Reduction of MVT” hails from Canberra. Operation Halite is an ACT Policing team of investigators and intelligence analysts dedicated to addressing MVT and burglary. Halite strategies target key recidivists and high crime locations.

The team was implemented in September 2004. MVT in the 2004/05 fin year showed a decrease of 22% on the previous fin year, the greatest ACT reduction in 6 years.

Key Operation Halite priorities for the 2004-05 financial year included:

·     developing and implementing intelligence-led policing strategies;

·     a strategic and systematic approach to crime targeting; and

·     participation in whole-of-government responses to crime, traffic and public safety issues.

The operation also incorporates elements of the ACT Government Property Crime Reduction Strategy 2004-2007. Staff led a number of multi-agency operations during the 2004-05 FY, including the execution of search warrants, traffic stops, crime prevention activity, and intelligence gathering. 

Analyses of crime trends that these activities have been successful in reducing criminal activity for an extended period after the operation. 


Certificate of Merit:  Region 3 Task Force (Victoria Police)

The following certificate of merit has been issued to a police task force that is responsible for around 65000 Square Kilometres. The Victoria Police Region 3 Vehicle Theft Task force was created in 2002. Since their introduction they have been responsible for over 1200 vehicle theft related investigations.

They are staffed by Police Officers who have intimate knowledge of motor vehicles, some with a mechanical background. VTTF has the ability to conduct quick and targeted operations to disrupt organised motor vehicle theft.

Since their introduction they have achieved outstanding results, including -

·     281 offenders arrested and charged with 1618 offences;

·     87 vehicles recovered with a value of $2,100,000 and around $360,000 worth of vehicle parts recovered;

They also conduct awareness sessions to Uniform and Traffic Management police to increase their awareness of identifying re-birthed vehicles, understanding legislation and new technologies such as DataDot.


Certificate of Merit:      Approved Inspection Station & Defect Notice Section, Licensing  Business Unit 

The 6th Certificate of Merit goes to an organization the furthest geographical point covered by the Australian IAATI Branch from where we are this evening – regional Western Australia.

The Approved Inspection Section and Defect Notice Section of the Licencing Business Unit is part of the Department for Planning and Infrastructure. The team was created to monitor and audit the inspection of all vehicles outside the Perth metropolitan area, some 40,000 vehicles per year.

The specialized audit team consists of 8 staff with a combined 147 years of vehicle inspection experience and 105 years in various automotive trades.

Suspect vehicles are sent to East Perth for rigorous physical inspection. Since January 2000, to team have detected 371 stolen vehicles presented for registration in country WA.  Detections reached their peak in 2003 at 99 that calendar year, and now appear to be in decline.  Only 47 stolen vehicles were detected in 2005.


Certificate of Merit:   Mark Bolace, SA Theft Reduction Committee

The final certificate for this category has been issued to Mark Bolace the Chairperson of the South Australian Vehicle Theft Reduction Committee. The South Australian Vehicle Theft Reduction Committee involves representatives from SA Police, Transport SA, Insurance Council of Australia, Motor Traders Association and RAA Motoring Club of SA.

Under Mark’s direction the South Australian Vehicle Theft Reduction Committee introduced and supported the following initiatives:

·      Development of the Comprehensive Auto-theft Research System (CARS);

·     SA legislation introduced under the Motor Vehicles Act 1959 to manage vehicle identification;

·     SA legislation introduced under the Second Hand Dealers & Pawnbrokers Act and its application to the auto parts Industry;

·     Lobbied SA Government to introduce Written –off vehicle legislation in line with other States;

·     Introduction of Transport SA 3 tier Vehicle Identification program;

·     Focus Group meetings to bring together representatives from SAPOL and Insurance Companies to identify areas of concern relating to vehicle theft.

·     The gotcha car program

·     Student Immobiliser Scheme targeting older vehicles owned by students;

·     And, extensive Media Programs to raise public awareness on vehicle theft risks.

Subaru Australia

2005 Outstanding Contribution to the Reduction of Motor Vehicle Theft

For the first time in the history of the Australasian Branch awards, Outstanding Contribution to the Reduction of Motor Vehicle Theft was given to a manufacturer. Subaru Australia were recognised for their pro-active improvements to vehicle security, in particular changes to immobiliser systems and the application of microdot technology to reduce high theft rates among WRX vehicles.

In late 2001, Subaru voluntarily recalled some 10,000 WRX vehicles manufactured between 1999 and 2001. Owners were offered the option of fitting a keypad to the immobiliser system free of charge. This keypad requires the entry of a four-digit user-code in addition to the original key, and effectively prevents the “component replacement” theft MO. Further, DataDot component identification was introduced to Subaru vehicles from late 2002 onwards, including the marking of parts not usually marked by other manufacturers. Self-voiding VIN labels were fitted to all doors, the bonnet and boot lid from all MY03 vehicles onwards.   

Following the introduction of these measures, the theft rates of late-model WRX vehicles in Australia have decreased dramatically.

Comprehensive Auto-theft Research System (CARS) - SA Attorney General’s Department / NMVTRC

2004 Outstsanding Contribution Award

2004 Outstanding Contribution Award - Comprehensive Auto-theft Research System (CARS), South Australian Office of Crime Statistics and Research(South Australian Attorney General's Dept).
L-R: Paul Thomas (Founder and Manager, CARS); Rob Potter (CARS Senior Research Officer); Graham Bath (CARS Database Manager) and Craig Petterd (International President, IAATI)

Operation Copra - Queensland Transport

2003 Outstanding Contribution Award

Winner:  Queensland Transport for Operation Copra

Accepting the award is:

  • Gary Mahon's, Director (Strategic Policy), Queensland Transport and
  • Peter Swindells, Assistant Commissioner, Crime Operations, Queensland Police

Also present representing Operation Copra is:

  • Roy Linssen: Assistant Policy Officer, Queensland Transport
  • Detective Sargent Dean Gilmore, Queensland Police Service

Also recognise those agencies who assisted QLD Transport with Operation Copra:

  • Queensland Police Service
  • Australian Customs Service
  • Queensland Department of Fair Trading
  • Australian Federal Police


Queensland Transport commenced Operation Copra in February 2000 in conjunction with Queensland Police Service, Australian Federal Police, Department of Fair Trading and the Australian Customs Service.  It commenced as an investigation into the fraudulent compliancing of imported second hand vehicles for sale and registration.  One of the features of this operation was that Queensland Transport sponsored the secondment of two full time members of the Queensland Police Service to the project and developed strong relationships between agencies and jurisdictions both within Queensland and Australia, enabling the sharing of information and expertise, thus increasing effectiveness of the initiative.  During these joint investigations a significant number of rebirth stolen vehicles were identified, leading to the identification of links with syndicated theft activities both in Queensland and interstate.  As a direct result of the formation of this joint task force 40 person had been apprehended and been charged with 342 offences ranging from compliance plate manufacture, attempted fraud, producing misleading documents and possession of stolen motor vehicles.  This joint task force has now matured into a sophisticated and highly effective early warning system for professional auto theft and fraudulent registration activities, fostering excellent working relationships with other agencies and jurisdictions and maximising the gains from information exchange and interagency cooperation.

Operation Copra's success relied on several agencies — Queensland Transport, Queensland Police Service, Australian Federal Police, the Queensland Department of Fair Trading, and Australian Customs Service.

In his acceptance of the award on behalf of Queensland Transport, Gary Mahon, Strategic Policy Director acknowledged the commitment of all agencies involved with the one aim of reducing vehicle theft.

"The award is testament to strong relationships between agencies and jurisdictions in Queensland and across Australia.

"A significant number of re-identified stolen vehicles and links with syndicate theft activities have been identified," Mr Mahon said.

To date, Operation Copra has led to more than 300 successful prosecutions relating to compliance plate manufacture, attempted fraud, producing misleading documents, and the possession of stolen vehicles.

In presenting the award Ms Nola Watson said “This joint taskforce has matured into a sophisticated and highly effective early warning system for professional auto-theft and fraudulent registration activities and maximises the gains from information exchange and interagency cooperation.”


Certificates of Merit:

This year there was a particularly strong field of nominations and the Committee had a particular tough time in choosing the winner in this category.  Because there can only be one winner, the Awards Committee felt there were a couple of nominations that deserved special recognition.  Therefore the following nominations were selected to receive a certificate of merit.

1.     Project Stoptheft, Queensland Police – This initiative was conducted in the North Coast Police Region situated on the Sunshine Coast.  It was a very successful program from developed using the SARA problem solving process – Scan Analysis Response and Assessment.   Stoptheft targeted public parking areas such as shopping centre car park and beach car parks.  It involved the distribution of a 4 part resource package  containing: a OK/25 sticker;  a EMPTY CAR  card that can be placed on the dashboard indicating all valuable had been removed ; a brochure containing vehicle security advice and a blue plastic bag with provision for a written motor vehicle security assessment.  The project enlisted the support of volunteers and received tremendous community and media support.

Call upon Assistant Commissioner, Crime Operations,  Peter Swindells from Queensland Police to accept the certificate on behalf of members of the North Coast Police Region.


2.     This next certificate of merit goes to an individual.  It is someone who I have known for a number of years now and I believe is very deserving a some public recognition for her work.  She is one of those people get is extremely energetic and always approaches her work with a great deal of enthusiasm.   This person was nominated by her former colleagues for her work as a Intelligence Analyst within the NSW Police Service.  And for those members who attended last year’s IAATI seminar I am sure they will remember her very interesting and professional presentation on re-birthing.  I am of course talking about Lisa Young.  Lisa who has recently resigned from the NSW Police Service spent almost three years with the former NSW Police Information and Intelligence Centre.   Her quantitative and qualitative research into motor vehicle theft and organised car re-birthing represent a significant contribution to the overall intelligence capability of the NSW Police Service.  Her work has raised awareness of  changing modus operandi, hot vehicles/ hot spots, hot time analysis, target profiling, applying international trends to domestic developments and has help build relationships with a wide range of both private and community stakeholders.  Her work has been accessed by all Australian law enforcement agencies via the ABCI’s Australian Law Enforcement Intelligence Network. 

Call Lisa Young to accept her certificate


3.     Finally the Committee wishes to acknowledge the recent efforts of the Victorian Police Service in the establishment of Operation Vehicle Watch.  In 2001 Commissioner Christine Nixon announced that motor vehicle theft would become a high organisational priority and established an internal review of motor vehicle theft in Victoria, which consisted of empirical research, analysis and consultation with internal and external stakeholders.  As a result of that review a major state-wide initiative was formulated under the banner of Operation Vehicle Watch.  The initiative provided an increased emphasis upon the availability and quality of criminal intelligence, investigation crime prevention and media marketing concerning motor vehicle theft activity.  It has been underpinned by a coordinated approach that involves a strategic partnership with the public, private and community sector groups.

Two of the really positive developments from the initiative has been the establishment of dedicated investigative groups in each police region to concentrate upon opportunistic vehicle theft (TOMCATs – Theft of Motor Car Action Teams) and the establishment of the Organised Motor Vehicle Theft Squad.

Call upon ……………….Gerry Bashford to accept this certificate on behalf of the Victorian Police Service.

Ashfield Mall - New South Wales

2002 Outstanding Contribution Award

Awarded by the IAATI Australasian Branch, 2002, Crime Prevention office, Ashfield Local Area Command NSW Police Service, and The Byvan Group.

During the year 2000 the Ashfield Mall car park was the Ashfield Local Area Command’s hot location for vehicle theft. The Ashfield Mall has over 20,000 customers through its doors on a daily basis. This increases during the festive season. They have a car park that has over 700 car spaces. Plus the roof car park which is owned by Ashfield Council which has over 350 spaces.

During 2000 the Ashfield Mall was the target for over 65 vehicle thefts that have been recorded. We believe this figure may even be higher. A number of these vehicles have never been recovered and some have been used in other offences. During January, 2001 a meeting was called between the Centre Management's Operations Manager David Ellis and Ashfield Local Area Commands Crime Prevention Officer A/Sgt Brendan Donnellan. The issue of Motor vehicle theft was discussed. The Byvan group decided to impute funds to redesign the layout of the car park and install CCTV.

The level one car park was re painted to bring the lighting the up the Australian standard. CCTV was installed which was digital based with excellent coverage and good quality print. The mall purchased the "Lock it or Loose it" signs as designed by the Police Service. We sat down and redesigned the layout of the car park. The problem was that staff car spaces were at the closest point to the shops and customers were the furthest away. Basically this was reversed with security upgraded around staff parking and a sticker system introduced to make sure staff we the only persons parking in the designated area. One way traffic flow was introduced to allow for extra time for offenders to be detected. An extensive media campaign was put out by the police advising residents and potential thieves of the changes that were made. Security personal were deployed more frequently to the car parks to be high profile. Foot patrols through taskings were increased and closing off of a known youth trouble spot was implemented at the front entrance to the mall.

Results: During 2001 the car theft rate dropped 66%. As of and including the 30 November, 2001 only 21 vehicles have been recorded stolen from the car park. Seven of these vehicles were stolen from the roof top car park which is council owned but contributed to the figures as the victims were shopping. Between March and July 2001 only one vehicle was reported stolen. The Byvan group and the Crime Prevention Officer worked together to achieve the excellent results which have been brought to your attention.

Extracted from the nomination prepared by Sergeant Brendan Donnellan, NSW Police Service

In addition to the main award the Branch presented the following Recognition Certificates in this awrd category:

Awarded to BMW Australia
This year BMW (Australia) became the first manufacturer to adopt a radical new component identical system using microdots. While microdots have been used overseas as a form of component identification for vehicles, BMW (Australia) has pioneered (along with the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council and their microdot supplier - Datadots) the used of microdots  incorporating a partial VIN. This is unique in that other vehicle applications of microdot technology has used a sequential serial number that requires a separate database to maintain the link between the VIN and the microdot serial number. The incorporation of the VIN means that police, registration inspectors, or forensic officers can readily check the identify of the component without the need of accessing additional private sector databases.

While the incorporation of the VIN sounds a relative simple concept, there were a number of quality control and supply procedures that needed to be developed and tested to ensure that:
1. the correct dots were always available when required (taking into account the dots are currently manufactured overseas and delays occur in supply that would prevent a vehicle from being delivered to the customer), and
2. that the correct batch of dots and only those dots were applied to the correct vehicle. 

Despite BMW’s being a popular target amongst professional thieves the decision adopt the microdot technology incorporating the VIN is a brave and innovative motive by BMW that will
hopefully prove to significantly reduce professional theft.

BMW’s decision is ‘brave and innovative’ because:
1. Vehicle manufacturers are traditionally very conservative when it comes to adopting new technologies, particularly those requiring development of new systems and procedures; and
2. Being the first to adopt the system, the unit costs of the dots are considerably higher than they will be once a number of other manufacturers also adopt the system. Thus, the cost they are required to pass on to their customers is artificially higher than it will be for other manufacturers who adopt the system some time in the future.

It is noted that now BMW had taken the lead with this technology a number of other manufacturers are now following their example. Due to the foresight of BMW to pioneer this technology and develop the necessary systems and procedures, I believe we will very shortly see the adoption of this technology by local manufacturers across their entire product line, which can only serve to substantially reduce the problem of vehicle theft within Australasia.

Recognition Certificate Awarded to Policy & Programs Unit, Organisational Policy and Development, NSW Police Service:

Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a situational crime prevention strategy that reduces opportunities for crime within the built environment. Specifically, it applies urban planning, design and place management principles that prevent crime ingredients from intersecting in time and space. In recent years, CPTED has been widely promoted as a means of reducing motor vehicle theft and other crimes in Australian car parks. While there is sufficient evidence to commend the use of CPTED, little is known about the effectiveness of individual treatments in different environments - particularly car parks. Template strategies, therefore, should be treated with a degree of caution. The NRMA Car Park rating scheme rewards applicant car parks for using
generic CPTED strategies. Ratings from 1 to 5 stars are linked to different levels of design and security safety. Template treatments are required in every car park regardless of the design,
size, use or configuration of the facility. Five star car parks in low-crime areas, for example, are to receive the same treatments as five-star car parks in high-crime hotspots. This practice
could be likened to a family doctor that prescribed generic treatments to every patient for every ailment. The intention might be honourable but the practice is less than professional.

The study
This research (thesis):

  •  assessed the overall usefulness of CPTED as a crime prevention measure, and has
  •  filled gaps in our ‘collective’ understanding of CPTED (individual strategies and their application).

The study was undertaken by the applicant for a Master of Architecture (through the University of Sydney). It examined environmental factors, conditions, contextual influences and/or management practices in 48 high crime rate car parks and 48 low crime rate car parks in the Sydney metropolitan area (N=96). The field component of this study spanned two calendar years and the findings are based upon the statistical analysis of more than 350,000 observations, measurements and calculations. This project remains the largest,
most detailed study of car park crime in the world1.

Results provide support for some “widely held” assertions about the effectiveness of CPTED - and challenge others. A paper outlining the results of this study is attached. The author presented it at the recent 6th International CPTED Association (ICA) Conference in Brisbane. The National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council and the Australian Institute of Criminology have held discussions with the author about publishing the results of this study. 

Nomination prepared by Inspector Phil McCamley, Policy & Programs Unit, Organisational
Policy and Development, NSW Police Service.

Street Legal - South Australia

South Australian Youth Project Street Legal has been announced recipient of a prestigious award for “Outstanding Contibution Award”.

At an Awards ceremony in Melbourne last night, the Australasian Branch of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) proclaimed the value of Street Legal’s unique program.  In announcing the winner of the 2001 awards, Australasian IAATI President, Mr. John O’Byrne, said “Street Legal is an excellent example of how a dedicated team of staff working with some of the most serious young car thieves can achieve a positive result for both the young person and the community.”

“When trying to address the problem of vehicle theft stakeholders frequently invest significant amounts of resources into developing sophisticated physical and electronic security systems at the same time failing to address some of the more fundamental issues.  Street Legal demonstrates that substantial impacts can be achieved by investing time and resources into helping young offenders and providing assistance to some of their basic needs.”

Street Legal, based at Kilkenny provides mechanical training, case management, recreational activities and employment opportunities to young offenders.  Funded by South Australia’s Department of Human Services and with the support of local businesses the program has worked with over 500 young offenders since it commenced in 1989.

In accepting the award Street Legal Manager, Kaylene Arnell, said “Research demonstrates that recidivist car thieves make up only a small proportion of all offenders yet account for the vast majority of thefts.  Our philosophy is in order to stop re-offending we must address the causes of offending in a supportive client friendly environment.”

“This award reinforces our view that we are providing a valuable service, a view also confirmed by a recent independent review of the project.”

Ms. Arnell said an evaluation of Street Legal’s program demonstrated that the vast majority of offenders who complete the program cease or significantly reduce their criminal activities.  Furthermore, the program was extremely cost effective, with Street Legal’s entire budget equivalent to the cost of detaining a single offender for 12 months.”

Ray Carroll, National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council

2000 Outstanding Contribution to the Reduction of Vehicle Theft

Winner of the “Outstanding Contribution to the Reduction of Vehicle Theft” award was Mr. Ray Carroll, Executive Director, National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council.  Mr. Carroll, a former head of the Victoria Police Crime Prevention Unit, was recognised for his work as Project Manager of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Task Force and his involvement in the establishment of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council.  The Council, an independent body has been established under a joint funding arrangement with each of the State and Territory Governments and the Insurance industry.

In presenting the award, Australasian Branch President, Mr. Tony Ward, stated that during the past 4 years Mr Carroll had facilitated the integration of manufacturers, police, insurers, registration authorities, etc and help focus their efforts and ensure that they were all contributing to a nationally coordinated plan.  While Australian motorists will hopefully share in the benefits of this approach over the next few years, Mr Ward noted that the strategies being implemented by Mr. Carroll and the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council have also been adopted by the UK government to form the basis of their new five year strategy.


During the presentation of the awards IAATI also made special mention of the efforts of the Western Australian Government for their recent introduction of legislation ensuring all new vehicles are fitted with an engine immobiliser and that second hand vehicles are also fitted with immobilisers prior to change of vehicle ownership.  As a result of this legislation Western Australia has the highest level of immobiliser fitment in Australia and is currently experiencing declining theft rates.   Mr Ward commended the Western Australian government for it’s initiative saying not only did it introduce the legislation but it supported it with a $40 rebate to vehicles owners, thereby substantially lowering the cost of immobilisers.”