Melody Teh

The obscure road rule that could cost you $108

The obscure road rule that could cost you $108

New South Wales police have been opening cars and checking for valuables as part of a crackdown on an obscure road rule.

Drivers in NSW can be fined $108 for leaving their car unlocked, reports ABC News.

The road rule is rarely enforced, but police in Wollongong have been checking cars in suburban streets and reminding residents of the rule.

"We have been seeing how many cars are unlocked and then seeing what valuables are inside," Detective Inspector Brad Ainsworth said.

"Unfortunately it was pretty disappointing. We found 30 vehicles over a couple of nights unlocked and with property in them."

Police have not be finding car owners but have been placing warning notes on car windscreens.

However, the patrol has angered NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Stephen Blanks.

"I'm really concerned about police opening cars and having a look in and going through the contents," he said.

"Police should not be doing that kind of thing without a warrant, and the mere fact a car is unlocked is not a cause for suspicion there's something illegal in it.

"If they do that kind of activity they will lose community support and they already require strong community support to do their job well.

"This kind of activity is just the wrong thing to do."

Detective Inspector Ainsworth defended the decision saying police have a duty to prevent crime.

"There have been lots of steal from motor vehicle offences in the [Illawarra's] northern suburbs and by going out and having a look, we're more than justified in doing that and unfortunately it's proven right.

"Cars are in their driveway and on streets and people leave their wallet in there, credit cards get stolen and used with PayWave and the police are chasing up those things, CCTV [footage], and it creates a lot of work."

Detective Inspector Ainsworth added that finding people was a last resort.

"It would be a crook day when we have to do that, but that's one of the options up our sleeve," he said.

"We've done community engagement in the northern suburbs and residents say they don't have to lock anything, but times have changed and offences like breaking into cars is happening.

"We have to safeguard against it and the owners of the property have to safeguard against it too."