Whangarei builder Joel Davies is the latest victim of a spate of car thefts, losing his ute and trailer and about $12,000 worth of tools.

The overnight theft, which he witnessed, has forced him to stop work and to buy costly replacement tools.

Also stolen was an empty trailer attached to his Ford Courier four-wheel-drive and valuable items from a shed.

A recent spate of thefts has prompted a police warning for communities to be vigilant.

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In the most recent case, firefighters were called to a car on fire at the entrance to the Whangarei Quarry Gardens on Russell Rd in Kensington, about 12.10am yesterday.

They put out the fire but the car was gutted.

Davies said he woke up about 2.30am on Wednesday and heard a noise outside his bedroom window.

He switched on the outside light and saw his ute and trailer with all his tools being driven away.

Davies jumped in his partner's car and drove south along Kamo Rd but could not track down the thieves.

This burnt out car on Russell Rd in Kensington was among three cars on fire in Whangarei within days. Photo/Michael Cunningham
This burnt out car on Russell Rd in Kensington was among three cars on fire in Whangarei within days. Photo/Michael Cunningham

He estimated his ute, trailer, tools and other stolen items were worth $30,000.

"I think it's lazy people not willing to work and stealing off hardworking people who are trying to get ahead in life."

About three weeks ago, his mate Brett Bamber's Toyota Hilux and about $5000 worth of tools were stolen from Dip Rd in Kamo.

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Coincidentally, it was Davies who found the Toyota Hilux, minus the tools and number plates, two hours later on Pipiwai Rd.

"It's very annoying. All my renovation work has stopped until I buy the tools but you need hard cash to be able to do that," Davies said.

On Sunday, three cars reported stolen were found dumped or burned in Glenbervie, Paparoa or Whareora and another was crashed on Vinegar Hill Rd shortly after it was stolen.

A station wagon reported stolen from a Woodhill address between 3am and 6am on Sunday was crashed on Vinegar Hill Rd not long after.

A 19-year-old male, who police said was a disqualified driver, has been charged with unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and careless driving in relation to that vehicle.

Another vehicle was found burned on the corner of Puketotara Rd and Maruata Rd in Glenbervie just before 3am on Sunday. The vehicle had been reported as stolen, police said.

The burnt-out car was just one of a number of vehicles stolen in Whangarei in recent days. Photo/Michael Cunningham
The burnt-out car was just one of a number of vehicles stolen in Whangarei in recent days. Photo/Michael Cunningham

A car was found fully engulfed in flames on Whareora Rd, near Mt Tiger Rd, about 11.20am that day. Fire crews reported the suspicious blaze to police who confirmed the car had been reported as stolen.

Another car, reported stolen from a Whangarei address, was found damaged 3km from Mangapai Rd just before 7pm on Sunday.

Whangarei police Sergeant Claire Carter said the recent spate of car thefts and fires was a concern.

"People should lock their cars, keep valuables out of sight, report suspicious people on 111, know your neighbours and be vigilant at all times."

A Colmar Brunton survey of 1014 people across the country last year, commissioned by AA Insurance, showed 89 per cent of drivers said they always locked their cars, 10 per cent "usually" locked and just 1 per cent said they "sometimes or never" did.

The survey also revealed one in 10 people had had their car stolen and just over a third of those, 35 per cent, were taken from the street.

Just 8 per cent of cars were taken from a carpark, 3 per cent from garages at the owner's home and 23 per cent from elsewhere on the property.