A Rotorua woman whose "great little car" was stolen twice in the past two months has spent more on towing and repairs than the vehicle is worth.
Angela Wharekura calls her Mazda Demio Zoe.
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She was at home in Koutu with her dog both times when someone broke into her car, which was parked on the street, before taking it for a joy ride and dumping it.
"It's very frustrating."
On November 7, police found her car on Susan St, Pukehangi.
Wharekura didn't even know it was gone when police rang her.
"I was down in the garden ... getting flowers because it was the day of my father-in-law's memorial service."
The side window and ignition were smashed, the front bumper damaged and a seat belt cut. The repairs cost more than $500.
Wharekura bought a steering wheel lock and began using it "religiously".
"Then the day I didn't [December 19] ... I went out that night to lock the front doors and it was gone."
Police found her car - with little damage this time - at Maraetai Beach in Auckland.
The towing costs brought Wharekura's bills from both thefts to more than $1000.
"It is a great little car. I just got Zoe last year and I bought her from a lady at the end of the street ... She was in mint condition, absolutely beautiful but you know, I didn't pay a lot for her."
Wharekura only has third party insurance.
"But it is not only the money, it is also the time and effort spent to get it back twice."
A young person is being dealt with by Youth Services in relation to the November incident, a police spokeswoman said.
In relation to last month's incident, a 19-year-old man is due to appear in the Manukau District Court on January 23, charged with unlawfully taking a motor vehicle.
Wharekura said the police had been "very good".
She had heard of many other vehicle thefts in her suburb via social media and recently witnessed one on her street.
"It's constant in our community."
Mazda models feature three times in the Automobile Association's latest list of Top 10 Stolen Cars.
A New Zealand Police spokeswoman said the number of stolen Demios in Rotorua in the past four weeks was in the "single figures", with a few more being other Mazdas.
"Of the vehicles stolen, nearly two-thirds have been recovered, with just a couple remaining outstanding," the spokeswoman said.
"Mazda Demios have featured prominently."
Tauranga Towing director Daniel Norton said Mazda Demios regularly needed retrieving after thefts.
"Ignition barrels and broken corner glass windows are the main damage. Ignitions smashed right out and started with a screwdriver."
He suspected Demios were targeted because "they are a nanny type car", less likely to draw attention.
In August last year, the Rotorua Daily Post reported more than 100 Mazdas had been stolen in Rotorua since March.
Rotorua police crime prevention manager Inspector Brendon Keenan said at the time almost 40 of the 100 Mazdas stolen were Demios and about 30 each of Atenzas and Familias.
Bay of Plenty police's district manager for youth, community and family harm, Inspector Phil Gillbanks, put out a warning to Neighbourhood Support in May.
He said two particular vehicle manufacturers' models stolen that autumn were Mazda 6s (or Atenza) manufactured 2002 – 2010, Mazda Familias 1990 -2002, Mazda Demios and Toyota Hiluxes 1985 -2010.
Bay of Plenty Demio owners aren't alone in their woes.
Earlier this week, NZME reported in Hawke's Bay there were 11 incidents of attempted or actual thefts of Demios during the first weekend of 2020.
While police did not have information about most commonly stolen vehicles, the Automobile Association's latest list of Top 10 Stolen Cars featured three Mazda models.
Mazda Demios were ranked fourth in the Automobile Association's list of Top 10 Stolen Cars last year, based on its claims data.
A total of 97 per cent of theft claims for models in the Top 10 list were for cars manufactured more than 10 years ago.
Top 10 Stolen Cars
(Source: AA Insurance claims data)
Protect your car from thieves
• Always lock your car's doors and windows
• Keep valuables stored out of sight.
• If your car is parked on the street or in a public place, make sure it is in constant public view.
• Get alarms, immobilisers or steering wheel locks.
• Get in contact with police immediately if you notice suspicious behaviour around vehicles.