What are Australia’s most stolen cars?

While the number of cars being stolen is dropping, thieves still have clear favourites.

Wondering what the professional thief’s favourite car was last year? Perhaps you’re thinking a top-end BMW, Lexus or even Bentley. Or maybe a brand new Audi or Volkswagen.

In fact, the most stolen vehicle isn’t even a sedan. You’re more likely to see your local tradie driving it rather than the local lawyer: it’s the Toyota HiLux.

In the 2014–15 financial year, profit-motivated thieves across Australia stole 326 HiLuxes. That’s 100 more than the next most stolen vehicle, the Holden Commodore.

There are two good reasons the HiLux is the most stolen car in Australia.

  1. “In terms of utilities and cabs, it’s the most sold 4WD,” the Executive Director of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (known as CarSafe Australia), Ray Carroll, says.
  2. “And if you’ve got a really popular car: one, you’re going to have a really active black market for parts; two, they’re also a very sought after car across the world, particularly in developing nations, so parts are red hot for putting in containers.”

South Australia

In South Australia last year, the vehicle most stolen in profit-motivated thefts (for spare parts or on-selling) was the Holden Commodore, with three different groupings of models making up the top three spots.

For short-term theft (involving joyriding, vandalism or use in another crime), the list was also topped by two groupings of Holden Commodores with the Ford Falcon rounding out the top three.

Western Australia

In Western Australia, the Commodore holds the top three spots for short-term theft, while the Toyota LandCruiser, Commodore and Hyundai Excel X3 make up the top profit-motivated thefts.

Carroll says that the figures in South Australia and Western Australia, largely reflect the number of cars sold. “Because there are so many Commodores being bought a lot are going to get stolen,” he says.

“It’s about pure availability, a really vigorous second-hand market, big demand for parts and, for short-term theft, they’re popular for the hoon-type thieves because the six cylinder engines and rear-wheel drives mean you can do burnouts.”

CarSafe distinguishes between cars stolen for profit and those stolen for other purposes, including joyriding, vandalism or use in another a crime.


“In Victoria for example, The Nissan Pulsar is one of the most stolen cars,” says Carroll. “But it’s almost always stolen by ‘Pulsar gangs’ in Melbourne who thrash the car and upload their exploits to social media. It’s basically never stolen for profit.”

Despite the headline numbers and the fact that overall, fewer cars were stolen in Australia last year than any time since records have been kept, Carroll’s main message is that any car can be stolen at any time. “Just because you don’t have a Commodore or Pulsar or HiLux doesn’t meant you can rest up,” he says. 

Protecting your car

If you’ve got a pre-2001 model car, you should consider fitting an immobiliser because, as Carroll notes wryly: “Otherwise, any semi-competent 14-year-old can steal your car.”

If you have a post-2001 model car, it’s all about protecting your keys. “The most common way of stealing a car is theft of keys from inside the house,” Carroll says.

“Be conscious: don’t leave them by the fruit bowl on the kitchen table; don’t put them on a key hook that says, ‘keys here’. If a profit-motivated guy after a HiLux or Audi wants to steal your car, they will. But protecting your keys will help stop the 16 or 20-year-old looking to boost a car for the night.”

Consider taking out Third Party Fire and Theft