A car is stolen on average every four days in Wairarapa and owners have only a one-in-three chance of getting their vehicle back.

But consider taking the train next time you visit the capital, because your car is twice as likely to be stolen over the hill.

Statistics released under the Official Information Act show 89 vehicles were stolen in Wairarapa in 2011, an increase on the previous year.

Of those, 26 were recovered in the region, a recovery rate of 29.2 per cent.


Wairarapa police acting area commander Terry van Dillen said car thieves were often either joyriders or "car ringers" - thieves who steal cars for scrap metal and parts.

"Clearly, a lot of the ones we don't find have obviously been used for scrap metal. They have been what we call car ringed," he said.

While some vehicles were taken during home burglaries, Mr van Dillen said cars were generally stolen from public carparks such as at train stations.

He urged people to contact police whenever they saw suspicious behaviour around cars.

The low recovery rate of stolen cars was not just a Wairarapa problem.

It was "generally not that great," he said.

If a car was stolen police recorded the licence plate in their database and staff on patrol were warned to look out for it.

But in some cases, a car could be stolen in the morning and in pieces around the country by the time the owner had finished work for the day, Mr van Dillen said.

If there was CCTV footage of the car being stolen or information was quickly passed to police, there was more they could do.


Wairarapa car thefts are comparatively low compared to Wellington region, with 22 cars stolen for every 10,000 people in 2011.

Wellington City had 939 vehicles taken, a rate of 51 per 10,000 people.

Hutt Valley had 570 vehicles stolen in 2011, 39 per 10,000 of population. Kapiti-Mana had the highest recovery rate of 58.6 per cent.

In 2011, 256 vehicles were stolen, 23 per 10,000 people.

Tips for preventing car theft

Don't leave valuables such as iPods and laptops in the car

Make sure the doors are locked and the car has a security system

Call in suspicious behaviour to police