Parents of a group of nine children found crammed into a stolen Suzuki Swift in the early hours of this morning had no idea their kids weren't asleep at home, police say.
A 13-year-old girl was behind the wheel of the car which was stopped in Kapiti by police at about 1.30am.
Acting Sergeant Nathan Dickey said police received a complaint from a family member that her car had been stolen from her home address and three of her family members and one of their friends were responsible.
The car was taken from a Paraparaumu Beach address.
An hour later, the vehicle, a small Suzuki Swift, was found travelling south on Manly St, Paraparaumu.
"Police turned around to stop the vehicle, however the driver increased its speed and turned down a side street," Dickey said.
"The vehicle then pulled over to the side of the road. Police were aware of four of the occupants' ages and there was never any pursuit engaged."
The driver pulled the car over about 20 seconds after seeing police.
Dickey said there was a 16-year-old in the front passenger seat, and seven other children aged as young as 10 squeezed into the back seat, with some sitting in the footwells and others sitting on laps. Most were unrestrained.
"We made it very clear to the kids in the vehicle how disappointed we were with their actions and spoke about the dangers of being in a vehicle unrestrained, and more so with the positions they were found in," Dickey said.
"It was extremely fortunate on this occasion that everyone was returned home safely, the last thing as a police officer we want to be doing is knocking on the parents' door advising them their child won't be coming home tonight.
"This is a good reminder to everyone to obey the road rules and alway wear your seat belt."
Dickey said the kids belonged to seven different families, and their parents had not realised they were not at home when police brought them back.
The car sustained minor damage while in possession of the driver, but police are still trying to establish how this happened.
"Police will be continuing their inquiries in regards to the vehicle becoming stolen with all occupants in the vehicle and they will be referred to Youth Aid services."