Teen joyriders boast of car thefts in shocking online videos

Toowoomba records 474 car thefts, spiking 41%

Reckless teenagers on a car stealing spree have flaunted their crimes online, live-streaming their dangerous driving, burnouts and speeding in Toowoomba.

Rangeville resident Kerry Gault-Rataj was woken by her partner who saw their $45,000 red Land Rover Discovery Sport speeding away from their home along with two previously stolen white cars.

A group of teenagers filmed their exploits involving the three stolen cars and posted videos to social media, showing them performing burnouts, driving almost 180km/hr, and dangerously mounting footpaths to overtake each other.

Shockingly, car theft has increased by 41% in Toowoomba this year with 474 cars stolen, compared to 335 cars stolen in the previous 12 months.

Ms Gault-Rataj said the offenders would never know the true cost of their crimes.

“It is a horrible feeling to know they were inside my house (to steal car keys),” Ms Gault-Rataj said.

“I feel I always have to have my handbag in the same room as me now and my partner is struggling to sleep,” she said.

“We have had to pay over $1,000 in insurance excesses. Because they still have our set of keys, we have had to get all the locks replaced throughout our home, and the locks replaced on our second car.

“Now we also have to declare the claims and pay more expensive insurance premiums for years – all because some little sh*** wanted a joyride.”

Ms Gault-Rataj’s car was one of 474 cars stolen in Toowoomba over the past 12 months.

Member for Toowoomba South David Janetzki MP said it was alarming to see the youths boasting about their crimes online.

“These offenders are brazen. They have no fear of the consequences,” Mr Janetzki said.

“Every time a car is stolen, which has happened 474 times over the past year, it is a great inconvenience to members of our community,” he said.

“They can’t drive to work, they can’t drive their children to school.

“People are being violated in their homes. They don’t feel safe. They have had enough.”

The Queensland Government’s 2019-2020 Crime Report showed the highest number of offenders stealing cars in the region were aged between 10 and 17.

Ms Gault-Rataj was woken by her dog barking at 4.20am on November 28. Her partner heard noises but didn’t realise their house was being broken into as they have been subjected to daily hooning noise in Heller Street over the past year.

Residents living near Picnic Point have spoken about the long-term, recurring issue of hooning in the area. One neighbour said hooning over the past year had been the worst it had ever been in the past 40 years she had lived there.

Mr Janetzki has written to council to request the installation of CCTV cameras in the Heller Street car park where the hoons gather.

Top five Toowoomba suburbs targeted by car thieves this year
  • Newtown – 64 cars stolen
  • Kearneys Spring – 47 cars stolen
  • Harristown – 35 cars stolen
  • Darling Heights – 28 cars stolen
  • Wilsonton – 26 cars stolen

*Figures obtained from the Queensland Police Service online crime map, Toowoomba QPS division plus Darling Heights, 09/12/2019 – 08/12/2020 and 09/12/2020 – 08/12/2021