Multiple Whangārei suburbs have been targeted by thieves responsible for a recent spike in vehicle thefts and break-ins.
The increase in vehicle crime has prompted a police warning for motorists - particularly in the Kamo, Tikipunga, and Morningside areas - to ensure their vehicles are locked and any valuables inside are hidden.
In the 12 months from January 2020 police recorded 196 thefts of motor vehicle parts or contents in the district with central Whangārei the hardest hit, followed by Tikipunga, Regent, and Kensington.
The Far North recorded 214 thefts of motor vehicle parts or contents in the same timeframe. Kaitaia recorded the highest number of vehicle crime, ahead of Kaikohe and Paihia.
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In the Kaipara District police attended 36 incidents involving thefts of motor vehicle parts or contents, with the highest number of recorded vehicle crimes being in Dargaville.
Acting senior sergeant Christian Stainton, Whangārei area prevention manager, said police had arrested a group of youths in relation to the latest spate of vehicle crime in Whangārei but vehicles were still being broken into.
"The vehicles targeted are generally either parked on the roadside, in driveways or on front lawns that are easily visible and accessible from the street," Stainton said. "These vehicles typically have no alarms and are often parked in poorly-lit areas with no security lighting to deter offenders."
Stainton said there have been several cases where multiple vehicles have been parked in the same location and the only vehicles targeted were the ones where valuables were in plain sight.
"Please ensure you secure your vehicles, park in well-lit areas if on the street, or park down driveways where they are less visible from the roadside. Always remove your valuables from your vehicles and consider vehicle alarms."
The public are encouraged to report any suspicious activity - such as people loitering around vehicles or looking into car windows - to police immediately by phoning 111.