Car fire spikes in Wagga could see higher insurance premiums

BLAZING CARS: The car was set alight and left on Jack Mission Oval in Ashmont in February, just one of the many instances of deliberate vehicle fires this year. Pictures: Kieren L Tilly
BLAZING CARS: The car was set alight and left on Jack Mission Oval in Ashmont in February, just one of the many instances of deliberate vehicle fires this year. Pictures: Kieren L Tilly

While vehicle fires continue to plague Wagga, residents could see insurance premiums increase if attitudes to precautionary measures do not change. 

The Riverina Police District was victim to 126 vehicle fire-related incidents in the last financial year. 

Peter Halliburton, finance and insurance business manager for Thomas Bros, said car insurance policies could rise as a result. Polices are developed by algorithms that analyse facts about areas, such as crime rates and extreme weather events. 

“In my opinion, floods drive up policies so it stands to reason crimes would as well,” Mr Halliburton said. 

Stolen vehicles, alongside aggravated break and enters and fraud, is one of the three main crimes seen in Wagga.  

Wagga crime manager Detective Inspector Darren Cloake said residents need to realise they can no longer have the “country attitude” of leaving their homes and cars unlocked. 

Detective Inspector Cloake said during aggravated break and enters, car keys are often targeted by criminals.

“Inevitably the car is used for a short time and then burnt out,” he said. 

“We are going through a transition from rural country attitudes to big city problems.

“The reality is we have a big problem with property offences.” 

Detective Inspector Cloake said the offences are most common in Tolland and Ashmont and are often a result of young people, under 18, looking to go on joy rides. 

He encouraged residents to report any suspicious behaviour, such as erratic driving, and to make use of the many anti-theft devices available. 

In one of the latest incidents in a series of car fires across Wagga, on Saturday morning a gas cylinder exploded on the back of a ute in Ashmont. The vehicle had been stolen before being set alight. 

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Insurance giant Suncorp said in a statement that there are numerous factors used to determine the cost of car insurance premiums. 

“Living in a suburb that has high levels of crime doesn’t necessarily mean a car insurance premium will automatically be higher,” the statement said.

“To reduce the risk of crime, customers should always ensure they lock their vehicle, and park in a secure garage if possible.”