At least 25 people have been hit by crooks snatching bags from the front seat of their car in the past two months, police in Auckland say.
The thieves' modus operandi is to park behind a car, blocking it from reversing, before opening passenger doors and grabbing handbags from the front seat.
Most of the incidents have been reported in Counties Manukau, particularly Botany and Papatoetoe.
Police are warning people to lock the doors as soon as they get in their vehicle, in the face of the wave of robberies.
Inspector Colin Higson, Counties Manukau East area prevention manager, said police were aware of 25 incidents since early May.
"Our community can be reassured that we are taking these incidents seriously and our investigation is progressing.
"Police have previously published photos of people we would like to speak with as part of this investigation. We encourage anyone who knows who these individuals are to contact Police."
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Bag snatches in carparks were unfortunately not new, he said. "However we have released some prevention advice through our Facebook page to members of the community to help keep themselves safe."
In a video posted to Facebook, Sergeant Nicolas Jensen advised victims not to try and chase the crooks if they did find a thief opening their car door - instead they should keep themselves safe and let police handle the criminals.
"Don't chase the offender. Call 111, get a good description of the offender, and let us deal with it," Jensen said.
He offered some tips on how to stay safe. "Don't carry heaps of cash on you; when you get in your car, lock your doors. Avoid being a target. Put your handbag under your front seat."
Stolen cars are being used to commit the crimes but CCTV from petrol stations and dairies has captured video of some of the alleged offenders.
Anyone with information can call police on 105 quoting the file number 210520/1803. Information can also be provided anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.