Amid Rising Car Theft Incidents, Youth Crime in Qld: Paralympian’s Wheelchair Accessible Car Stolen

Amidst a spate of incidents involving vehicle theft in QLD, former Paralympian and disability advocate Karni Liddell lost her wheelchair-accessible car, just months after losing her Hendra home to floods.

Karni Liddell’s Honda Odyssey was stolen whilst in a “secure” car park in Kangaroo Point in October 2022. The loss was a blow, coming on the heels of her home in Hendra being flooded in March, forcing her to rent an apartment whilst she recovers from the incident.

Photo credit: Instagram/ karniliddell 

The Honda Odyssey was fitted with a ramp and hoist to allow her to easily lift her 35-kg wheelchair in and out of the car. According to the report, her $40,000 wheelchair was also stolen, allegedly by a “17-year-old-looking” boy. Her wheelchair has since been found, dumped on the side of the road in Woolloongabba.

“My wheelchair accessible Vehicle was stolen yesterday from my secure underground carpark. This car has a wheelchair hoist in the boot which lifts my 35+ kg wheelchairs ($40000). Not only has my car been stolen but my wheelchair has also been stolen,” her social media post reads.

“I’ve always said that a person in a wheelchair’s accessible cars are as important sometimes as our wheelchairs, because without them I can’t wheel and get out of my unit anywhere independently, reliably, safely or at all if we have to rely on a maxi taxis or public transport.

“It has taken 6 months of hell to get my electric wheelchair back after I lost it and everything I owned when my house flooded in March. It took this long due to an equipment backlog because of the “world ending” and the NDIS (same same). So I’m gut wrenchingly hyper aware of the processes and restrictions which are going to be embedded into our daily lives for the next 6 + mths.”

Ms Liddell is just one of the thousands of vehicle owners in Queensland who has been victimised by car theft in the past months. In the past year from July 2021 to June 2022, more than 17,000 vehicle owners in Qld lost their cars to theft.

Whilst data does not differentiate between youth and adult offenders, it prompted calls for the State Government to double down on youth crime reforms, amidst rising criminal activities involving youth.

In 2021, Queensland recorded the highest number of individual car thefts with 15,805 reported incidents, a recent data crunch from Budget Direct revealed. Victoria is a close second with 15,353 whilst New South Wales is third with 10,473.

Brisbane also had the most vehicles stolen among Australian cities during the period with 3,623 motor vehicle thefts in 2021 as compared to Gold Coast’s 2,591 and Townsville’s 1,118 reported incidents. However, it is worth noting that Brisbane’s high numbers could be attributed to Brisbane’s LGA covering a much bigger area compared to other cities such as Sydney.