3 January 2019

Tripling of car fires in December leaves police baffled

| Lachlan Roberts
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The remnants of a burnt out car in Casey. Photo: George Tsotsos.

Another car fire in Canberra’s south on the last day of 2018 has brought the number of car fires in Canberra in the past month to a staggering 56 cases, causing police to ask for the public’s help.

From car fires in school car parks to suburban streets and the ACT’s national parks, firefighters have been kept busy with a spate of incidents across the nation’s capital in December, nearly tripling the November total of 20.

Four cars were set alight on Christmas Day alone, including one in the car park at the Gold Creek School in Nicholls and others in Symonston, Wanniassa and Narrabundah. On the weekend of 8-9 December, eight cars were reported on fire, with fires in Wanniassa, Forrest, Page, Duffy, Hawker, Bonner and Fraser.

On 15 December, a stolen car was set alight in the lower Cotter catchment area, near Vanity’s Crossing, causing a grass fire in the surrounding bushland. ACT Fire and Rescue extinguished the blaze, which grew to about 10 metres by 50 metres in size and burned for just over an hour.

It mirrored the incident that filled Canberra with fear in November, when a burnt-out car started the Pierces Creek bushfire that burned out of control for several days before being contained a mere seven kilometres from Kambah.

An ACT Policing spokesperson said police had attended 34 car fires in the past month but would not say if they had made any arrests or if any suspects had been charged.

While the increasing rates across the intense summer conditions has park rangers and firefighters concerned, police were unable to say why there have been so many cars set on fire and if any investigations were under way.

“ACT Policing acknowledges the psychological, emotional and financial impact when a valuable item such as a car is stolen and destroyed by fire,” a spokesperson said.

“Suspicious vehicle fires reported to ACT Policing are investigated to attempt to determine how the fire started. Arson is a serious offence, and where an offender is identified, appropriate action is taken.”

The spokesperson said police attended 22 car fires on average every month in 2016-17 and 24 a month in 2017-18 but did not have an explanation for the recent spate of fires.

“Crime is always cyclical and there are many contributing factors to these cycles,” the spokesperson said. “ACT Policing is examining any linkages in relation to the increase of incidents in December 2018.”

If anyone is aware of any vehicle fire, deliberate or otherwise, during the fire season, ACT Policing is urging them to report it on Triple Zero immediately.

Anyone with any information about a deliberately set fire should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via their website. Information can be supplied anonymously.

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Capital Retro9:44 am 05 Jan 19

Three more car fires in the late night/early morning reported on the ESA website today.

Several different forces at play, all bound together by: ACT Policing are the most incompetent police force in Australia.

1. ACT Police have the lowest clearance rates nationally – by a mile. Offenders never/rarely caught, they continue to commit many crimes. Check the PC’s ROGS for cross-jurisdictional comparisons. In my suburb, 98% of crimes unsolved, everyone has CCTV. Ten s-x assaults unsolved, dozens of bashings, some home invasions, burglaries, robberies. In a suburb of 300 people living in seven streets. Ha.

2. AMC is the worst jail in the nation; highest rates of drug use inside; highest rates of recidivism once outside. What did we expect of Rattenbury running anything?

3. Crims steal cars to commit offences and flee the scene. So there is a criminal calculus at play. Cars burned to remove DNA evidence.

4. The cr@ppy police website has been like this all 2018. I suspect ACTP hid the crime jumps behind a webportal that appears to be malfunctioning. Up until July 2018, there were no offences for any of 2018. I’ve also seen ACTP have fiddled with data from 2016 and 2017. It’s not the first time. Dont you remember the Canberra Times article which reported that ACT Policing were feeding the Neighbourhood Watch groups crime stats that omitted up to 75% of crimes? I know from personal experience the crime stats get fiddled around.

5. The now-common frequency of what we in Oaks Estate call a Car-B-Q occurring across the ACT and borderlands shows general lawlessness is increasing everywhere. Crims feel invulnerable and unstoppable. And they’re right. Our cops are useless.

6. jumps in homelessness, cr@p mental health care, NDIS failures, cuts to public housing… all symptoms of Barr’s deliberate approach to poor people. Car-B-Qs are just one outcome of his strip-mining of the government.

Capital Retro10:30 pm 03 Jan 19

I tried to check the claimed statistic of 22 car fires a month quoted in this post from the AFP crime statistics web page https://policenews.act.gov.au/crime-statistics-and-data/crime-statistics.

It may be my lack of skill in navigating the website but if not it is a “dog’s breakfast” with most of the quarterly statistics for the past 3 years missing.

It’s been a while since I have seen a police patrol in my suburb which is probably why my car and several others were broken into recently.

The police are obviously under-resourced in the crime prevention area and indeed this is the excuse they use when crimes are reported and a response is denied. They assume everyone has insurance so all you get is a PROMIS number for your claim, never a visit.

Not happy, Andrew.

Out of curiosity, how much do those cameras that monitor cars going into and out of areas cost ?

Then balance that against an average of 22 car fires /month or 264 /year with a vehicle average cost of lets say $5k – that’s a whopping $1.32 mil worth of vehicle.

As a taxpayer, I’m ashamed my government can’t even keep the lawns near the roads mowed, but this is truly spectacular.

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