High-end car thefts fuel fears of surge in youth crime

By Sam McKeith
Updated February 12 2024 - 6:29pm, first published 6:23pm
Seven teenagers are being questioned after a string of car thefts. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)
Seven teenagers are being questioned after a string of car thefts. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

Teenage joyriders are posing a risk to the public and themselves as NSW officials warn of a worrying rise in dangerous incidents involving young offenders.

Seven teenagers were arrested and later charged on Monday after a "shocking" theft on the Central Coast of several high-performance cars, one of which was chased by police before being driven nearly 100km to Sydney.

Two of the teens were arrested early in the morning after the BMW X5 they were travelling in - allegedly stolen from St Huberts Island - struck a police car.

There were no injuries due to the alleged ramming, police said.

Five other youths were arrested a few hours later in Toongabbie, in Sydney's west, after allegedly speeding there from the Central Coast in a stolen Mercedes.

The two high-performance cars and a Porsche were all believed stolen from the same Central Coast area, police said.

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon said authorities feared for both the safety of the wider community and for young people when they were behind the wheel of powerful cars.

"We know about the lack of experience in those drivers and what we really don't want to happen is for one person to lose their lives," he told reporters.

Police Minister Yasmin Catley said it was no secret youth crime was on the rise.

"What is very worrying is the level of violence associated with those crimes," she said.

"Last night's incident is shocking and we don't want anybody to feel unsafe in their home or in their community."

Ms Catley noted a police operation targeting serious, property-related youth crime in regional areas had netted about 1000 arrests since it began in September.

There were 18,390 NSW Police actions against those aged between 10 and 17 in 2022/23, up two per cent on the prior year, according to recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data.

Youths comprised 16 per cent of total offenders in NSW in that financial year.

There have been calls for a royal commission on youth justice reform in Queensland following concerns over a rise in serious crimes involving young people in the state.

Australian Associated Press