A police car that was stolen in the Bay of Plenty town of Murupara has been found abandoned nearly four hours later.

Dozens of police and the Eagle helicopter have been hunting for the car and its driver since it was stolen from Oregon Drive at 7pm.

A spokeswoman said police found the car abandoned on Gibbs Rd - which is some 15km away - shortly before 10.50pm.

Read more: Reports: Shots fired as man in handcuffs drives off in police car in Bay of Plenty

"Enquiries will continue overnight to locate the offender," she said. "Unless there are significant developments, no further updates are expected until after 7am tomorrow morning."

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Police did not answer queries from the Herald about whether there were any police weapons in the stolen car, or whether the car thief had been in the car at the time it was stolen.

The search is believed to have been hampered by the fact that the offender had access to police radio in the car and could potentially listen in to police communications.