LEAVING your car unlocked is a crime in Queensland that could see motorists forking out ‘absurd’ fines.
LEAVING your car unlocked is a crime in Queensland that could see motorists forking out ‘absurd’ fines.

QLD motorists can be fined for not locking their cars

LEAVING your car unlocked is a crime in Queensland that could see motorists forking out 'absurd' fines.

On average 13 people in Townsville each year are issued a fine for not locking their vehicle.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads said the fine was $52, but Fines are usually $44 but key criminal lawyer at Strategic Lawyers, Anthony Sturgeon said people could wind up having to pay an outrageous $2611.

Many wouldn't even know that leaving your car unlocked in technically a crime but 68 people in the region were slapped with fines for just that reason between 2013 and 2017. .

Clearly more than 13 people each year leave their cars unlocked and police regularly encounter unlocked vehicles in response to property crime matters without issuing fines.

Townsville acting Superintendent Joe Kitching said police didn't make the laws but each officer had discretionary power when it came to issuing a fine or warning.

"That's up to each officer in an individual situation," Supt Kitching said.

"We certainly encourage people to lock their vehicles as they do their houses.

"Unlocked vehicles provides an opportunity for property offenders … A locked vehicle doesn't provide that opportunity for people to walk by and steal belongings."

 

Acting Superintendent Joe Kitching. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Acting Superintendent Joe Kitching. Picture: Zak Simmonds

 

Townsville MP Scott Stewart. Picture: Shae Beplate
Townsville MP Scott Stewart. Picture: Shae Beplate

 

Mr Sturgeon, queried the logic of fining people over a victimless crime.

"It's ridiculous to fine people for this - you are punishing the potential victims of a crime rather than a perpetrator," Mr Sturgeon said.

"Also, the parliament needs to pass an amendment reducing the maximum fine down … the idea someone could face a fine of thousands when all they have done is make themselves vulnerable to a criminal act is absurd.

"This is a shocking waste of police resources and I suspect the real reason the fine amount is so low is it means people are unlikely to take the police to court to fight them - because the court costs of any appeal would quickly outstrip the value."

Townsville MP Scott Stewart said even though it was the law, he hoped police used discretion and didn't punish people for one-off forgetful incidents.

"If people have been warned several times and persist maybe there is scope for charging people but I certainly would not support charging people on one-off incidents." Mr Stewart said.

Burdekin MP Dale Last, a former police officer, said there were several laws that the public might question at times but 'the law is the law'.

He said he preferred to issue warnings to motorists for not locking the vehicles during his time as a cop and suggested many officers would take that approach.



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