Despite the pandemic, New Zealand saw a drop in car thefts over 2020

There was a drop in car thefts of more than 25 per cent in 2020, despite the hardships of a global pandemic.
Anna Loren/Stuff
There was a drop in car thefts of more than 25 per cent in 2020, despite the hardships of a global pandemic.

While 2020 was a year to forget for most of us, it seems even car thieves decided to dial things back a bit for the pandemic.

New research from Finder has found that New Zealand saw a decrease in vehicle thefts by 26 per cent compared to 2019.

The analysis used New Zealand Police data, which revealed 22,420 cars were stolen or broken into in 2020, compared to 30,252 in 2019.

NZ POLICE
Police are asking people to be extra vigilant around Auckland City and Middlemore hospitals' car parks after a spate of thefts.

Wellington was the worst offender, with one in every 120 vehicles stolen or broken into in 2020, followed by Palmerston North (one in 144) and Lower Hutt City (one in 156).

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Conversely, the safest place for Kiwis to leave their car unattended is Southland, with just one in every 2,630 cars stolen or broken into.

Stolen cars are often set on fire and left on the side of the road.
Supplied/Stuff
Stolen cars are often set on fire and left on the side of the road.

The research found that 3pm is the most common time of day for vehicle break-ins, while Saturdays and Sundays see a 12 per cent increase in thefts compared to weekdays. Wednesday is the least common day for thefts.

On average, a car was stolen or broken into every 23 minutes in 2020, down from 21 minutes in 2019.

There isn’t yet a full dataset for 2021, but preliminary figures spanning January to September show there were 20,456 car thefts in New Zealand. It’s hard to tell if the remaining three months would push 2021 over 2020’s total, but considering Auckland was still hard in lockdown until 19 October, and then in Level 3 until 2 December, a spike in frustrations may well have resulted in more break-ins and thefts.

Car thieves will steal anything. Even oddly conspicuous paper bags.
123RF
Car thieves will steal anything. Even oddly conspicuous paper bags.

Angus Kidman, Finder’s editor-at-large in New Zealand, said car insurance can offer peace of mind when it comes to your set of wheels.

“You aren’t legally required to have car insurance in New Zealand, but if you cause an accident or your car is stolen, you’ll be left with an eye-watering bill.”

“Comprehensive car insurance will typically cover you for theft, but you could be left seriously out of pocket if you’re on a more basic policy. The fine print matters.”

The Demio was the most commonly stolen vehicle in Auckland between July 2020 and June 2021.
Supplied/Stuff
The Demio was the most commonly stolen vehicle in Auckland between July 2020 and June 2021.

As for specific models, NZ Police data says the most commonly stolen vehicles in Auckland between 1st July 2020 - 30th June 2021 were the Mazda Demio, Nissan Tiida, Mazda Atenza, Subaru Legacy, and Subaru Impreza.

These five vehicle models made up over 25 per cent of all vehicles stolen across Auckland in the past year. Toyota hybrids are also a target.

“Many used imported second hand vehicles do not have factory fitted immobilisers, making them preferred targets for offenders,” said Inspector Trevor Beggs.

Many used imports do not have immobilisers or alarms, making them an easy target.
123rf
Many used imports do not have immobilisers or alarms, making them an easy target.

“Vehicle crime tends to be opportunistic and offenders look for easy targets or quick gains if they see valuables left in vehicles.

“The solution is straight-forward; the more security measures you have in place, the harder it is for offenders to steal your vehicle and the less likely it is that you will be targeted.”

More than 1300 charges have been laid in relation to vehicle thefts committed across Tamaki Makaurau in the 12 months between July 2020 and June 2021.