New cars are a scare commodity and now brazen thieves in North Queensland have set their sights on the precious few available.
- Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Ram stolen from Mackay car yard
- Wait times for new cars now average six months
- The Motor Traders Association says new cars are coming with fewer options to reduce wait times
Thieves used grinders to cut a hole in a fence of a new car holding yard in Mackay on Monday night and then broke into an office key safe, taking 25 sets of keys.
They then smashed their way through the front gates in the cars that had already been sold, including a high-end Chevrolet Silverado that had been on back order.
New Pioneer Motors managing director Keith Callinan said the attack was devastating.
“That’s the really, really sad part about it… it’s not like we can just go and get another one and give it to him,” he said.
The Silverado has since been found dumped in long grass in an industrial area of the city.
Mr Callinan said the other car, a Dodge Ram, was seen doing a fuel drive off several hundred kilometers away.
Police said car-related businesses in Mackay, such as sale yards and mechanics, had been targeted in recent weeks.
Officers have been working with businesses to reduce their security risks.
Fewer options, less functionality
Car dealers are still struggling to get enough stock to sell, due to several factors including COVID-19 and the shortage of critical components.
Motor Traders Association deputy general manager of member services, Marcello Riotto, said the wait time for new cars had pushed out to an average of six months.
“There’s been lockdowns around the world, freight issues with shipping containers being hard to get a hold of and the war in Ukraine have affected the supply chain,” he said.
Mr Riotto said some new cars were being delivered with fewer features in a bid to speed up the process, leaving customers with fewer choices.
“Some new cars are coming with less functionality … not safety related things, but in comfort,” he said.
“Things like a heads up display which you can see the speed on the windscreen, that’s a nice to have, that could be deducted.”
He said some cutomers were buying white vehicles because that was the only color available.
“You can’t be too selective because there are other people in the queue waiting for a vehicle,” he said.
Delays to continue
While many parts of the economy are working in a new COVID-normal setting, it’s likely to be some time before wait times for cars decline.
Mr Riotto said there were indications it wouldn’t be until next year.
“In the US they’re starting to get the supply right, so maybe during 2022 for them, but in Australia it’s likely to be 2023,” he said.
But he said that was not guaranteed.
“If you can’t supply it’s very frustrating so it’s a tough gig for everyone … and obviously the consumer is getting messed around with different pricing and contractual agreements, so it’s been a crazy ride,” he said.
Mr Callinan said there would be significant ongoing impacts of this week’s ram raid.
Apart from building repairs, he said it would be at least a month before all the cars that had keys taken would be able to be sold.
“We have to get them re-keyed, which is expensive but then it’s actually getting the parts and then getting a technician to fit the parts,” he said.
It was not the first time the business had been targeted.
Several years ago a car was taken from the showroom after a crow bar was used to break in and take spare keys from the storeroom.
“The main keys were in a locked key safe, but the insurance company told us they shouldn’t have been on the premises and refused to pay the claim,” Mr Callinan said.