Police are warning car owners to remain vigilant over the summer period following a spate of vehicle thefts and break-ins.

Police said that this time of year can see an increase in vehicle thefts, with Mazda Demios likely targets. There were 11 incidents of attempted or actual thefts of Demios during the first weekend of 2020.

Hawke's Bay CIB Detective Steve Leonard said: "We are asking owners of Mazda Demios to take extra precautions.

"Often, these vehicles are stolen for 'joyrides' and later found crashed, burnt out and/or non-operational. The actions of these offenders can put members of our community at risk when they are involved in dangerous driving, crashes, and fleeing driver incidents."

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Police confirmed that there had also been an increase in the use of stolen Eftpos and credit cards, many of them taken from vehicles.

"Make sure you don't leave anything of value in your vehicle, particularly if it is parked in a remote location, as someone who breaks in or attempts to break in would be less likely to be noticed," Leonard said.

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"Always lock your vehicle, and consider installing an alarm system and/or a steering wheel lock or clamp. If you are able to, park near other vehicles and in places of public view."

During summer car windows are often left slightly ajar to help ease the temperatures inside vehicles, but police warn of the risks of this tactic.

"Despite the temptation make sure you shut your windows - don't give thieves any help in breaking into your car," he said.

"Take the opportunity to protect yourself and your vehicle as best you can."

Jack Stairmand, of Napier, took to Facebook to warn fellow residents to "keep an eye out" for anything suspicious following a spate of incidents in his neighbourhood.

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Stairmand wrote on a local Facebook page: "Just a big heads up for anyone that lives around Napier central school area on the hill - there's been a number of cars being broken into lately including both my flat mates and now my neighbour.

"If they can't get into your car they seem to be siphoning your tank, as it happened to my car two nights ago. We have reported it to the police but they can't do anything about it apparently."

Police say Mazda Demios continue to be targeted by car thieves. Photo / Michelle Rush
Police say Mazda Demios continue to be targeted by car thieves. Photo / Michelle Rush

Stairmand added: "If I were you, just keep an eye out and don't leave your car in the same spot for more than a couple nights especially if you don't have parking space and are having to park on the road."

A Hawke's Bay special needs school had a van stolen from school grounds on Christmas Day.

The vehicle was taken from Kowhai Special School, in Akina, in the early hours of Christmas Day.

A school spokeswoman said the van used to transport students between satellite classes across the region.

Police warn that leaving windows open in your home even just a crack is also not a good idea.

"Make sure to lock them tightly to reduce the chances for thieves."

Police suggested getting in contact with them immediately if you notice anyone acting suspiciously around vehicles, taking note of as much information as you can, such as physical descriptions.