The Daily Advertiser, Editorial, January 4, 2018

As stupid crimes go, stealing a car, taking it for a joyride and then setting it on fire is exhibit A.

Imagine the heartache and fear that comes from waking on an otherwise ordinary day, looking into the driveway and realising the car is not where it should be.

The panic and fear of understanding someone has crept onto the property in the wee small hours and stolen the car is only likely to grow with the complications of not only having to deal with police and insurance companies, but also getting through the week without a car.

In 2016, Wagga had 97 car fires, with 104 in 2017, police have said.

Already, just three days into 2018, the city has had two cars stolen and burned out.

That’s two families left inconvenienced, angry and scared because they have been the victims of crime.

Imagine, for example, an elderly couple who rely on their car to attend doctor’s appointments, a tradie who needs his vehicle to earn an income or a young family needing the car to get kids to school and parents to work.

The inconvenience is considerable, particularly in a regional city with limited public transport options.

But there is also the fear that comes from being the victim of crime, from knowing that someone has violated your personal space and taken your car.

It is also hard to comprehend the seeming pointlessness of setting fire to a car once the novelty of having stolen it wears off.

There is something so wasteful about a car that was probably much-needed by its owners simply set on fire and left to burn.

It’s also dangerous. Starting the actual fire is bad enough, but every blaze is a risk to passers-by and the Good Samaritans who try to minimise damage to the burning vehicle and surrounding property.

Eventually, someone is going to be hurt.

For the victims of these vehicle thefts, it is not “just a car”.

It was the means to get to work, medical appointments and into the community.

Cars are expensive to buy and maintain, and replacing them – even with insurance –  is fraught with complications.

That Wagga police recorded an average of two car fires a week in 2017 was concerning enough.

To have two in just the first three days of the new year is even more worrying.

This is not a record Wagga wants to beat in 2018.

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