A Whangārei woman is urging motorists to travel with their doors locked after a man tried to climb into her car as she drove home from a late night shift.

Krystal Marsh, 25, has spoken out after the scary incident early yesterday.

"I just finished work and was at the lights on Hatea Dr heading towards Nixon St and someone tried to jump in my car. Not only did they try the front door they also tried the back door too," Marsh recalled.

At the time Marsh was on her own and had no cellphone with her. She drove to her Whau Valley home and told her partner about the incident. He advised her to call the police who immediately dispatched officers to search the area.

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Marsh said the man, who was on his own, was dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans and was about 176cm in height.

"I ran a red light," she said.

Fortunately, her doors were locked.

The last thing she saw of the man was him running off down Mill Rd towards the central city. Police were unable to track him down.

She posted on a popular Facebook page telling people of her experience in the hope she could spread the safety message to lock your doors while driving.

It had generated a number of comments, with some people saying they had also had similar experiences.

Kahui Neho commented: "I wonder if that was the same person that did the same to me at the Kensington lights a couple weeks back, wanting to go to Kamo."

Trinny Tokerau had some good safety advice of her own: "Make lots of noise. Hit the horn hard. You will attract people's attention with noise."

Acting area prevention manager for Whangarei and Kaipara, Sergeant James Calvert, said while some cars automatically locked when being driven, manually locking car doors was a sensible and easy precaution to take.

He also said anyone driving at night should have a phone so help could be called quickly.

"The sooner you call the police the better," he said.

"If you are in a position to make some noise and attract the attention of someone they could call for help. In my experience people who are committing crimes don't like attention being drawn to them."