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Published: 25 January 2023

Tiktok leads to joyriding crime wave in nsw

Have you noticed an increase in videos of teens carjacking and joyriding in cars? Surprisingly, NSW Police are reporting social media platform TikTok is to be blamed.

The TikTok trend consists of teaching and encouraging young people to carjack and joyride in cars, and most often the brands Kia and Hyundai are targeted. This is particularly troubling as the consequences of this behaviour can be devastating. You can read recent news reports here and here.


Did you know that if you are accused of joyriding, you won’t be charged with theft of a motor vehicle?

This is because the offence of theft of a motor vehicle requires an intention to permanently deprive the owner of possession. The case with most joyrides, is exactly that, a ride for short lived joy and thrill.

Since 1924, Joyriders have been charged with:

  • Taking a conveyance without the consent of the owner under section 154A of the Crimes Act 1900.

The law defines a ‘conveyance’ to be all encompassing of most vehicles or modes of transport including:

  • Cart
  • Carriage
  • Wagon
  • Motor car
  • Earth moving equipment
  • Tank
  • Ship

This offence is deemed to be less serious than the specific offence of stealing a motor vehicle, as noted by the maximum penalties:

Taking a conveyance without the consent of the owner

  • Maximum penalty is five years imprisonment

Stealing a motor vehicle (section 154F Crimes Act 1900)

  • Maximum penalty is ten years imprisonment


This broad offence under section 154A covers a multitude of behaviour revolving around conveyances:

  • Joyriding
  • Being a passenger
  • Demanding money for return of stolen conveyances

There are three offences bundled into section 154A, these are:


There was no consent by the owner of the conveyance for you to

  1. Take and drive
  2. Taking for the purposes of driving
  3. Secret the conveyance

Obtaining a reward

You obtained a reward for:

  1. Restoration/pretended restoration of a conveyance
  2. Or another fraudulent purpose

Knowingly being carried

Knowing that the conveyance was taken without consent and either

  1. Drives or
  2. Allows themselves to be carried in or on the conveyance


There are two strategies for defending a charge under section 154A, either that the elements of the offence is not proven beyond a reasonable doubt or that a lawful defence applies.

The following defences are applicable:

  • Self Defence
  • Duress
  • Necessity
  • Claim of Right


In the cold light of day, it’s easy to view joyriding as a dangerous and unacceptable practice in our community. So, why are teenagers eager and willing to take the risk?

Research has shown that the teenage brain has two systems competing: rewards and self-control. However, these systems do not develop at the same rate.

During puberty, the idea of rewards and sensations are increasingly more attractive which leads to natural upswing in reward or sensation seeking behaviour. This runs alongside the notion that self-control does not fully mature until mid-20s, leading to a tendency for impulsivity. These concepts are borne out by the empirical evidence that teenagers engage in risky activities more often when amongst their friends.

You can read the research here or a short summary here.

In the teenage mind, the increasing natural desire for risk and sensation seeking meets the underdeveloped ability for self-control, and produces actions that are impulsive and risky.

This explains why the trend of joyriding was so overwhelming popular on the youth focused platform of TikTok.

At Morrisons we are specialist criminal and traffic lawyers based in Wollongong and the Southern Highlands. If you require advice or representation, you can book an appointment with one of our expert criminal lawyers.

Contact us today

We are the only private law firm in the Illawarra, Southern Highlands and South Coast regions with two lawyers recognised as Accredited Specialists in Criminal Law by the NSW Law Society.