Wairarapa police are investigating a rise in car thefts over the last few months.

Since February, eight cars and several trailers have been stolen across the district, four of them from the Masterton area and four from Carterton.

One of the cars stolen from Carterton was later found burnt out in rural Masterton, with the engine, front guards, bonnet and bull bar removed.

Detective Sergeant Dean Cadwallader said it was likely the cars were being stolen to order and stripped down, or "ringed", with the parts taken to "re-birth" cars.

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"It is a concern to Wairarapa police that this increase indicates that there may be an individual or group of people in our area who are targeting vehicles to rebuild them and on-sell them. It is inevitable that this type of person is not qualified to 'mix and match' vehicle parts."

Often "ringed" vehicles were on-sold to criminal associates, or unsuspecting people, Mr Cadwallader said.

"Regularly the stolen vehicles and parts are sold or traded on the internet or by other means in exchange for money or other stolen vehicles or parts."

Older model Hilux vehicles were a popular target, he said.

It was important people remembered not to leave valuables in cars, or to leave cars with keys still in them.

┬ŁAnyone with information should contact the Masterton station on 370 0377 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.