Whanganui residents are being urged to be vigilant with their vehicles after an increase in thefts.

Whanganui area commander Nigel Allan confirmed police have identified an increase in vehicles stolen through December.

"While the overall trend for the last six months of 2019 saw a reduction in the number of vehicles stolen across the area (down 8 per cent), the trend through December is concerning," Allan said.

"Recent offending has been concentrated in the central city and Gonville with vehicles targeted often older models not fitted with alarms or anti-theft devices."

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A Castlecliff resident told the Chronicle she's recently had two vehicles stolen from her property.

She said a friend had their vehicles broken into three times in one week, and that a neighbourhood watch group had been set up in response.

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Allan said police are working with community patrol, neighbourhood support and Māori wardens to increase patrols in the suburbs where most of the incidents are occurring.

To prevent theft, police advise the public to take practical prevention steps such as never leaving items of value in a vehicle, parking a vehicle off the road or in a garage when practical, and using a car alarm, immobiliser or steering lock if parking on the roadside.

Anyone who observes suspicious behaviour is advised to report it to police via 111.

Last year, Automobile Association figures showed the most commonly stolen vehicle in New Zealand was the Honda Torneo.

The second most sought-after vehicle by thieves was the Mazda Atenza, followed by the Subaru Impreza.

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Three Mazda model vehicles featured in the top 10 alongside three Subaru models.