Rotorua police have issued a warning to the public to lock their cars and keep them off the street after 21 cars were stolen in the city in seven days.

Rotorua police area prevention manager Inspector Brendon Keenan said the thefts were widespread across the city, creating a "huge problem" for police.

"Crime overall has been consistently low, this is the one thing taking a huge amount of police time."

Keenan said drivers needed to do "anything they could" to deter people from breaking in or taking their vehicles.

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"Keep your car up on the driveway where possible, or look at ways to make it safer on the road, like alarms or steering wheel locks."

He said Mazdas and Nissans appeared to be being targeted most.

In the past week, six of the vehicles stolen were Mazdas. Of those, four were Demios.

Keenan said the majority of the cars had the quarter light smashed to gain access and the ignition barrels were then tampered with to start the engine.

"People are taking them and having them stripped down for parts, driving them somewhere else so they can take items or have a longer look through, sometimes just for a joy ride or to get from A to B."

For Susan St resident Charlie Tahana, having her car stolen has made it difficult to take her sick child to see the doctor.

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Tahana had parked her car at the bottom of her driveway, not inside the gate, and had left it unlocked.

"It had all of my kids' stuff in it, their car seats and school bags."

Tahana said she possibly had too much trust.

"We had only owned the car for a week, but we've been here for so long, we trusted the neighbourhood."

When she woke up the following morning the car was gone.

"I felt rat s*** really.

"It's been so difficult not having a vehicle, especially when the kids are sick and we can't get them to the doctors."

Tahana said she would use the carport from now on and would make sure she kept her vehicle locked.

For the time being, she and her children have been walking, bussing and getting help from family to get around.

"It's gonna take us a few weeks to save up for a new car, but I don't even really care about that, I more care about the stuff that was in it."

Stolen vehicles still missing
Silver 2004 Subaru Legacy, registration LGS970, taken from Huratai St Koutu.
Brown 1984 Mazda 323, registration LR6752, taken from Totara St, Glenholme.
Black 2000 Volkswagen Passat, registration CWS450, taken from Pukuatua St.
Gold 1988 Toyota Landcruiser, registration TT6460, taken from Clayton Rd, Mangakakahi.
Silver 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer, registration GPG454, taken from Milton Gr, Owhata.
Silver 1993 Honda Accord, registration XC9900, taken from Susan St, Pukehangi.