Manawatū police are warning owners of Mazda Demios to take extra care after a spate of thefts in the past week.

Inspector Ross Grantham said there had been a significant increase in unlawful taking of motor vehicles, the vehicle of choice being the older model Mazda Demio.

The vehicles were often driven poorly and crashed causing more damage.

Grantham said owners could take a number of steps including using a steering lock. "They are relatively cheap being purchased from any of the auto parts stores for $30 to $70."

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There were more expensive security options such as a car alarm or immobiliser.

Motorists should if possible park in well-lit areas, or streets with high foot traffic as people passing by were great security.

"Do not leave attractive items in your car on view, as these attract dishonest people and they will take what you have worked hard for.

A Mazda Demio recovered in a damaged state by police. Photo / Supplied
A Mazda Demio recovered in a damaged state by police. Photo / Supplied

"Handbags, laptops, cameras, sports bags, radar detectors and the like are all easy to sell commodities, so please don't make it easy for thieves.

"Either lock your valuable items away or take them with you.

"If you see or suspect any suspicious activity in progress, call police straight away on 111."