This article will discuss motor vehicles, vessels, and trailers offences under the Crimes Act 1900. Stealing motor vehicles, vessels, and trailers is a serious crime in Australia. There are a number of reasons why stealing motor vehicles, vessels, and trailers is a serious crime.
Firstly, it can cause significant financial loss to the victim. Secondly, it can deprive the victim of a means of transportation. This can have a significant impact on their daily lives. Thirdly, people may use stolen motor vehicles, vessels, and trailers to commit other crimes. This includes armed robbery or drug trafficking.
Read on to learn about legal provisions about motor vehicles, vessels, and trailers offences.
Section 154E: Definitions Under Motor Vehicles, Vessels, and Trailers Offences
Section 154E defines important terms used in this Section. We outline them in the table below:
|To interfere with a thing includes to alter, deface, remove, obliterate, conceal, or add anything to the thing.
|1. A car, truck, motorcycle, or other vehicle that is powered by a motor
2. A motor or part of a motor vehicle, including any part containing or consisting of an identification plate for a vehicle under the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 of the Commonwealth (as in force immediately before its repeal).
|A trailer is a vehicle:
• Built to be towed, or is towed, by a motor vehicle, and
• Not capable of being propelled on roads or road-related areas without being towed by a motor vehicle, even if it has other power sources.
Excluded from the definition of “trailer” are:
• Motor vehicles being towed, and
• Anything declared by the statutory rules to be excluded from the definition.
|Any number, letter, symbol, or other information that is used to identify a motor vehicle, vessel, or part. It can be marked on, attached to, or stored in electronic form in the vehicle, vessel, or part.
|Any watercraft that can be used as a means of transportation on water. This includes both displacement craft and non-displacement craft, as well as seaplanes while they are on water.
|Any part of a motor vehicle or vessel, including a key that is used to start or operate the vehicle or vessel.
Section 154F: Stealing Motor Vehicle, Vessel or Trailer
Section 154F outlines stealing motor vehicles, vessels, and trailers offences. Anyone who steals a motor vehicle, vessel, or trailer can face imprisonment for up to 10 years. Some of the most common methods of stealing motor vehicles include:
- Hot-wiring: Hot-wiring is the process of starting a motor vehicle without using a key. Connecting the ignition wires directly to the battery leads to hot-wiring.
- Using stolen keys: Another common way to steal a motor vehicle is to use stolen keys. Parties may steal keys from homes, businesses, or even from the person’s own pocket or purse.
- Towing away an unattended vehicle: People may also steal motor vehicles, vessels, and trailer by towing them away. They do this often when someone has left the vehicle unattended or parked it in a public place.
Section 154G: Facilitating Organised Car, Boat or Trailer Rebirthing Activities
Facilitating organised car, boat, or trailer rebirthing activities is a crime under Section 154G. This means that it is illegal to help someone else steal, modify, or sell a stolen car, boat, or trailer, especially if it is part of a larger operation. According to Section 154G of motor vehicles, vessels, and trailers offences, the maximum penalty for this crime is 14 years imprisonment.
Car, Boat, or Trailer Rebirthing Activity
A “car, boat, or trailer rebirthing activity” is any activity that involves one or more of the following:
- Stealing or receiving a stolen car, boat, or trailer
- Changing a car, boat, or trailer or its parts to hide the fact that they’ve stolen it
- Putting stolen parts on a car, boat, or trailer
- Changing a car, boat, or trailer’s unique identifier to hide its identity
- Registering a stolen car, boat, or trailer, or a car, boat, or trailer with stolen parts on it
- Selling or offering to sell a stolen car, boat, or trailer
Facilitating a Car, Boat, or Trailer Rebirthing Activity
Section 154G of motor vehicles, vessels, and trailers offences defines “to facilitate” a car, boat, or trailer rebirthing activity”. This means:
- Taking part in any step of the activity, or help others to cause any step of the activity
- Providing or arrange financing for any step of the activity
- Providing the premises where parties took any step of the activity, or allowing others to take any step of the activity in premises that you own, lease, occupy, or manage
Carrying Out an Activity on an Organised Basis
A person carries out an activity on an “organised basis” if they:
- Plan, organise, structure or carry it out in a way that shows that they have done it more than once and that it involves more than one person
- Do it for profit or gain
In court, to prove that parties carried out an activity on an organised basis, or that the accused was aware that someone carried it out on an organised basis, the prosecution does not need to prove:
- That the accused knew any of the other participants in the activity, or that any of the participants knew each other
- That parties planned, organised, structured or carried out the activity under the direction of any particular person or people, or in any hierarchical manner
- That the same participants were involved each time the activity was carried out
Section 154H: Making, Using and Interfering With Unique Identifiers
Section 154H of motor vehicles, vessels, and trailers offences sets out the following provisions:
It is a crime to:
- Dishonestly interfere with or copy a unique identifier.
- Possess a motor vehicle, vessel, trailer, or part of a motor vehicle, vessel, or trailer with the intention of dishonestly interfering with or copying a unique identifier.
- Dishonestly make a unique identifier or a purported unique identifier.
- Knowingly make someone accept false information about a motor vehicle, vessel, or trailer as if it were the real unique identifier for that vehicle, vessel, or trailer.
According to Section 154H of motor vehicles, vessels, and trailers offences, the maximum penalty for this crime is 7 years imprisonment.
For the purposes of this section, information is attached to a motor vehicle, vessel, trailer, or part of a motor vehicle, vessel, or trailer if it is:
- Marked on or attached to the motor vehicle, vessel, trailer, or part.
- Marked on a thing attached to the motor vehicle, vessel, trailer, or part.
- Stored in electronic form in a part of the motor vehicle, vessel, or trailer.
In court, the prosecution only needs to prove that the accused knowingly induced someone to accept false information about a motor vehicle, vessel, or trailer as if it were the real unique identifier. They do not need to prove the identity of the person who the accused induced, or the specific false information that the induced person accepted.
In this section, causing a computer to respond to false information about a motor vehicle, vessel, or trailer as if it were the real unique identifier is also considered inducing a person to accept that information as genuine.
Section 154I: Possession of Motor Vehicle, Vessel or Trailer Where Unique Identifier Has Been Interfered With
Section 154I of motor vehicles, vessels, and trailers offences state that:
- It is a crime to possess a motor vehicle, vessel, or trailer, or a part of a motor vehicle, vessel, or trailer, with a tampered unique identifier. This is if you know that someone has tampered with the unique identifier. The maximum penalty for this crime is 5 years in prison.
- For the purposes of this section, you have “dishonest possession” of something if:
- You obtained or received it dishonestly, or
- You intend to register, supply, or use it dishonestly.
Section 154J: Possession of Identification Plate Not Attached to Motor Vehicle or Trailer
Section 154J states that it is a crime to knowingly possess an identification plate that is not with a motor vehicle or trailer. However, provisions on motor vehicles, vessels, and trailers offences state that this is permissible unless you have a reasonable excuse. The maximum penalty for this crime is 5 years in prison.
The burden of proof is on you to show that you had a reasonable excuse for possessing a detached identification plate. This section also highlights the following terms:
- “identification plate” – a plate that is legally permissible to be attached to a vehicle or is assumed to have been attached to a vehicle,
- “motor vehicle” (refer to table above)
The Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
Stealing a motor vehicle, vessel, or trailer is a serious crime in Australia. The maximum penalty for this crime is 10 years in prison. If you are facing an accusation of this crime, it is important to seek legal advice from a qualified lawyer as soon as possible. People who had their vehicles stolen must also seek legal advice as well immediately.
A criminal lawyer can help you to understand the charges against you and your legal rights. They can also represent you in court and help you to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
JB Solicitors is a law firm that specialises in criminal law. We have a team of experienced lawyers who can provide you with expert advice and representation on the crime of stealing motor vehicles, vessels, and trailers.
Contact us for more information about motor vehicles, vessels, and trailers offences.