The term carjacking is the targeting of thieves stealing cars however, it also portrays the act of violence with use of weapons, resulting in the possibility of injury and emotional distress to victims of this crime. As seen regularly in the media, such an act is becoming more and more frequent in Australia with most incidents being reported in Victoria. It was reported in the early hours of this morning that a carjacking incident led to a dramatic scene, affecting many road users, involving a police chase and resulting in two police officers being injured.


It is reported by 9 news that, a 24 year old man and a 28 year old woman have been charged over an alleged violent carjacking on the NSW South Coast. Witnesses caught in the unfolding drama said they were left “bewildered”.

Yesterday, police began a pursuit when they saw an allegedly stolen car heading north on the Princes Motorway at Bomaderry.

Dozens of police, including highway officers, were called in to help stop the vehicle. But they came unstuck, hitting heavy traffic in Albion Park.

Attempting to escape, the car rammed another vehicle and mounted a kerb, before slamming into a vehicle stopped at traffic lights.

The woman and man who were in the car then fled on foot but were quickly tracked down by officers and placed under arrest. Both were charged with a raft of offences overnight.

Lake Illawarra Police said they believe the couple were responsible for approaching an 18-year-old woman outside a Gerringong supermarket on Monday, threatening her with a large knife and stealing her car. That stolen vehicle was spotted again near Berry, just before 8am, where it collided with another car.

Police will allege the man and woman then stole a silver Kia from a nearby property, rammed a police car and fled north on the M1.The car is now undergoing DNA and fingerprint testing, with a number of items of interest seized, including the victims ID, keys, and knives.


The offence of Stealing a Motor Vehicle or Vessel is contained in section 154A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) which creates a number of offences, the most prevalent of which is section 154F– taking and driving a motor car without the consent of the owner or the person in lawful possession.


This offence is generally heard in the Local Court unless the DPP elect to try by indictment in which case it will be heard in the District Court.

The nature and elements of the offence of Stealing a Motor Vehicle or Vessel were considered in the case of R v Glenister (1980) 2 NSWLR 597 esp at 607–608. Here it was said:

“The jury should be told that to establish that the accused took the conveyance “fraudulently”, he or she must be shown to have acted dishonestly in the sense that the purpose at the time of the taking of the conveyance was dishonest and that, in deciding whether the act of taking was dishonest, they should apply the current standards of ordinary decent people”.


154F of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) states:

A person who steals a motor vehicle or vessel is guilty of an offence.


In NSW, stealing a motor vehicle or vessel, if heard in the Local Court, carries a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment. If tried on indictment in the District Court, the maximum penalty is 10 years’ imprisonment.


Since stealing a motor vehicle or vessel offence is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution.

The prosecution must prove each of the elements in the charge beyond reasonable doubt.

That is a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of stealing a motor vehicle or vessel.

To establish stealing a motor vehicle or vessel, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt;

  • You were the person who committed the offence;
  • That you stole a motor vehicle or vessel; and
  • With the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the motor vehicle or vessel


The Courts are not bound by statistics however there must be reasonable consistency in sentences. A Magistrate or Judge should have regard to what has been done in other cases. In Green [2011] HCA 45, the joint judgement of French CJ, Kiefel and Creennan JJ it was stated:

“Equal Justice” embodies the norm expressed in the terms “equality before the law”. It is an aspect of the rule of law.

The latest stats indicate that for stealing a motor vehicle or vessel 46% of offenders received full time imprisonment whereas 22% received a s 9 good behaviour bond. Section 9 good behaviour bonds have of course been replaced with Conditional Release Orders (CROs) since September 2018.

To read more on the sentencing reforms that took place last year, check out our informative blog post.

To learn more about the offence of Car stealing, click on this link.

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