A woman had more than $5000 worth of dance gear pinched in the first of six break-ins targeting her small car in almost as many months.

Smash and grab thefts are hitting car owners hard with research showing four out of five New Zealanders who experienced a car break-in had contents pinched.

The research, carried out by Colmar Brunton and commissioned by AA Insurance, surveyed 1100 Kiwis.

Dancer Victoria Pye told the Herald she parked her Holden Barina outside her home in Avalon where it had been broken into six times in the past eight months.

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The first time her car was broken into more than $5000 of uninsured dance gear was taken from the boot, she said.

"It was all gone," she said.

"That was a bit of a wake-up call not to leave anything visible in my car."

Pye said she always locked her car and the thieves could not have seen the dance gear before they broke in.

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"We kept an eye on TradeMe and stuff but none of my stuff came up so we are not quite sure what they did with it."

That day she was supposed to perform leaving her with a last minute dash to find the right shoes and costumes: "It was a nightmare."

Even with no valuables in the car the break-ins happened almost monthly, she said.

The inside of Pye's Holden Barina after one of many breakins. Photo / Supplied
The inside of Pye's Holden Barina after one of many breakins. Photo / Supplied

"It's not a nice feeling because you hope that you would be safe in the community."

Somehow the thieves avoided setting off the car alarm.

"To be honest it's not even surprising, it's just annoying because obviously I don't keep anything in my car any more," Pye said.

"And if you look on the Lower Hutt Community Facebook page it is happening to so many other people.

"Every time I go back to drive it just feels uncomfortable knowing someone has been in my car."

Pye said the cost had been frustrating because she was saving to attend a performing arts school in the United States.

Pye said the cost associated with the breakins had been frustrating because she was saving money to pursue dance in the US. Photo / Supplied
Pye said the cost associated with the breakins had been frustrating because she was saving money to pursue dance in the US. Photo / Supplied

Last month, Rotorua police reported that nearly 30 cars had been targeted in 18 days.

The break-ins occurred at night, with a high-risk period after 10.30pm.

The locations cars were when they were stolen according to the survey. Source: AA Insurance
The locations cars were when they were stolen according to the survey. Source: AA Insurance

In one claim made to AA Insurance a car was broken into while the driver was at the dentist.


How are Kiwis protecting their cars?
Seven in 10, or 68 per cent of drivers take the necessary security measures to ensure their car is secure according to the AA Insurance survey. This includes:
• Factory installed security system - 53 per cent (up from 46 per cent in 2017)
• An immobiliser installed by the car owner - 9 per cent (down from 10 per cent in 2017)
• A car alarm installed by the car owner - 9 per cent (no change)
• A steering wheel lock bar - 5 per cent (no change)
• A GPS tracking device installed by the car owner - 3 per cent (no change)
• Other - 4 per cent (down from 5 per cent in 2017)
• None of these - 32 per cent (down from 35 per cent in 2017)

The majority of New Zealand drivers are making sure that their car is locked at all times.
• Nine out of 10, or 88 per cent of drivers always lock their car (down from 89 per cent in 2017), while 11 per cent usually lock it (up from 10 per cent in 2017). The remaining 1 per cent sometimes or never locks their cars, which is the same at 2017.
• Those in rural areas tend to be more relaxed about car security


AA Insurance tips for preventing car theft

• Always lock your car, even when parking at home
• Keep valuables and car keys out of sight
• Where possible try to park in a garage, carport or off-street
• If you must park on the street, leave your car is in a well-lit area
• If possible use a secure parking building and park close to the entrance or exit
• Install visible security measures such as an alarm, immobiliser or steering lock
• Always know where your keys are, and never leave them in your car. Thieves will steal keys so they can take modern vehicles with sophisticated security systems
• Be vigilant at weekends and during warmer weather when more thefts are reported.