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NZ car theft statistics 2022

One in every 239 cars was stolen or broken into in 2020. How likely is a car to be stolen where you live?

You probably don’t think twice about leaving your car on the street – but Finder analysis of New Zealand police data shows that a car was vandalised or stolen every 23 minutes in 2020.

Find out which regions have the highest rates of car theft and how to keep your vehicle protected with car insurance.

How many cars are stolen in New Zealand?

New Zealand saw a decrease in motor vehicle thefts in 2020 despite a global recession and economic hardship, according to Finder research.

New Zealand police data shows 22,420 cars were stolen or broken into in 2020. That’s the equivalent of 1 theft every 23 minutes.

This is a 26% decrease from the previous year, where 30,252 motor theft incidents were recorded.

The number of vehicle break-ins and thefts was on a slow decline from 2015 to 2018 before spiking again in 2019. While thefts in 2020 were down year-on-year, preliminary 2021 figures suggest vehicle crimes may have increased this year.

Which region has the most car thefts?

Wellington was the most popular police district for thieves, with 1 in every 120 cars stolen or broken into in 2020.

Palmerston North (1 in every 144) and Lower Hutt City (1 in every 156) came in second and third place.

The safest place for Kiwis to leave their car unattended is Southland, with just 1 in every 2,630 cars stolen or broken into.

What is the most popular time for car thefts?

Despite the stereotype of the midnight burglar, the majority of car thefts and break-ins occur in broad daylight.

The analysis found 3pm is the most common time of day for vehicle break-ins. In fact, a vehicle is 86% more likely to be stolen during PM hours than AM hours.

The research also shows a 12% increase in thefts on Saturdays and Sundays compared to weekdays. Meanwhile, Wednesday is the least common day for vehicle thefts.

How to protect your car from theft

Don’t park on the street. Parking on the street makes you an easy target for thieves and will also raise your insurance premiums because of the elevated risk of theft. Instead, keep your car in a locked garage out of sight of looming carjackers.

Install an alarm. Most new cars have in-built security systems, but if you drive an older model, you might not be protected. Installing an alarm will typically only cost you a couple of hundred dollars, which is a fair investment to deter thieves.

Protect yourself with insurance. You aren’t legally required to have car insurance in New Zealand, but if your car is stolen, you’ll likely be left with an eye-watering bill. Comprehensive car insurance will typically cover you for theft among other things, but you could be left seriously out of pocket if you’re on a more basic policy. Ask your insurer what’s covered under your policy and make the switch.


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