Police have recovered a patrol car that was taken on Saturday night while an officer was conducting a traffic stop in Whangamata.

At approximately 11:30pm the passenger of a vehicle, which was stopped for speeding, took the police officer's patrol car, a police statement read.

The patrol car was subsequently located by police at approximately Sunday morning at 3.00am in Opoutere.

All firearms were still secured in a locked box in the police vehicle.

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Taking a police vehicle is a serious offence, and police were following lines of enquiry to locate the offender.

Police said it was a rare and isolated incident which they would be investigating.