An Auckland family have had their Mazda Familia stolen three times in two years have spent hundreds of dollars on impound and repair fees.
Yesterday the annual AA Insurance list of most frequently stolen cars was revealed, with the Honda Torneo sitting in the top spot.
The Mazda Familia and Subaru Impreza also continue to be popular with car thieves, sitting at second and third on the list.
The list is based on AA Insurance's own claims data, which also shows 92 per cent of theft claims for models in the top 10 list were for cars manufactured more than 10 years ago. The average value of a stolen vehicle claim from the top 10 list is $5,120.
The Herald is seeking similar data from other companies, but in the past AA Insurance have been the only provider to collate and release the information.
Lance and Cheryl Pearson's daughter's Mazda Familia was pinched three times in two years.
"The first time it was found months later. The third time it was found with a 12-year-old in it. No charges were laid for stealing it because he wasn't caught driving it," said Mrs Pearson.
"Each time cost us approximately $300 in fees from the impound... and several hundred more in repairs. A pristine car is now scratched , marked, missing parts, has mismatched parts, dented.
"It gets my son to work and back though it's not worth much now."
Mrs Pearson said the first time the car was stolen as while her daughter was at university.
"And the other two times from under a street lamp right outside our bedroom window," she said.
"My son now uses a steering wheel lock which seems to have helped - (there has been) no theft in the last year and a half."
Mr Pearson said each time the car was taken the driver's window was smashed in, as was the ignition.
Each time he had to pay to get the car released from a tow yard.
"On one occasion the car was not driveable and I had to quickly get someone to come out and repair it before the storage fees started," he said.
"It's annoying. Getting things repaired is not cheap."
Mr Pearson suspected a lack of consequences for young car thieves was not helping the issue.
He attended a restorative justice meeting with a youth who stole the Mazda and said the boy and his mother "basically laughed through it".
"We were not the only ones there. There were other victims, and more that could not attend,' he said.
"It's a joke. We have a system that seems to be very soft on the people that are stealing. There is no deterrence."
Older cars being targeted
To calculate theft incidence rates, AA Insurance measures the number of claims made for each model of car for which 20 or more claims have been made, as a percentage of the total number of policies it holds for that model. The information is based on AA Insurance's highest theft claims incidence rates over the last four years for cars covered under comprehensive insurance.
AA Insurance customer relations manager Amelia Macandrew said older cars were being target because newer models tended to have more sophisticated security systems.
"And while older cars can also be a potential target, there are things all owners can do to ramp up their car's security to make them less attractive to thieves, regardless of the age or make," she said.
"For example, installing an alarm, a steering lock, or considering a visible immobiliser. Thieves will always go for the easiest, fastest option, so if you make it just a little bit harder for them then chances are they'll lose interest in your car and move on to an easier target."
According to police crime statistics for 2014, there were 49,121 motor vehicle thefts and related offences recorded, compared to 48,375 in 2013 and 49,935 in 2012.
Many of the cars stolen were taken from driveways or outside homes.
One example was an AA Insurance customer who heard a strange noise one night, then a car being started. She woke the next morning to find her 2000 Subaru Impreza gone from the driveway. The thief had been on the run from police after a house break-in, and escaped through neighbouring backyards. Police later apprehended the thief and recovered the car, which had $1,100 worth of damage to the ignition and locks.
Another customer arrived home from a party to find her 2002 Mazda Atenza missing. Police soon notified her that it had been involved in a high speed chase. The thief was apprehended after crashing and severely damaging her car, causing an engine fire and all air bags to deploy. The total loss was over $12,000.
"The best chance of keeping your vehicle safe is to park it in a garage or carport, however if you're going to park on the street then make sure it's under a street light for better visibility," said Ms Macandrew.
"It's in our customers' interest to make their cars as difficult to steal as they can - not only to avoid the distress and inconvenience of a theft, but also help keep insurance as affordable as possible."
Top 10 most frequently stolen cars:
1. Honda Torneo
2. Mazda Familia
3. Subaru Impreza
4. Mitsubishi Libero
5. Nissan Safari
6. Honda Integra
7. Subaru Forester
8. Nissan Stagea
9. Mazda Atenza
10. Mazda Premacy
AA Insurance tips for preventing car theft:
• Always lock your car, even when parking at home
• Keep all valuables and your car keys out of sight, including away from your front and back doors
• Where possible try to park in a garage, carport or off-street
• If you have to park on the street make sure your car is under a street light or in a well-lit area
• If in a car park then use an attended, secure parking building and park close to the entrance or exit
• Install visible security such as an alarm light, immobiliser or steering lock
• Know where your keys are at all times, and never leave them in your car, even at home. Thieves are now stealing car keys to access new vehicles with sophisticated modern security systems
• Be extra vigilant over weekends and during warmer weather when there are more thefts reported