A police officer who was arresting a person in New Plymouth this afternoon turned around to find their car had been nicked.

A person has now been arrested over the car theft, which happened in Spotswood, New Plymouth at around 4.30pm, a police spokeswoman said.

"The incident happened while an officer was in the process of arresting a person. While the officer was occupied a different person has stolen the police car," the spokeswoman said.

The car was recovered within 10 minutes thanks to help from a member of the public, she said.

There were no firearms or any other police tactical equipment in the police car when it was taken, the spokeswoman said.


"One person has been arrested in relation to this matter on an outstanding warrant and charges are likely in regard to the theft of the police car."

In October a police car with a firearm inside was stolen in the Bay of Plenty, reportedly by a person who was handcuffed in the back of the car at the time.

The person alleged to have taken the car, 18-year-old Maaki Emery, evaded police for three weeks before being arrested.

Emery appeared in court on Monday facing five charges, including three related to the car being taken.