Youths behind spike in car thefts in South

A Mazda Demio. Photo: supplied
Japanese vehicles such as Mazdas have been targeted by southern car thieves. Photo: Supplied
A group of youths is thought to be behind a sharp rise in car thefts in Southland.

Police said today there had been "a sharp increase" in the number of motor vehicles being stolen in Invercargill and throughout the province.

Earlier-model Mazdas, Nissans, and Toyotas were being targeted, they said.

"It is believed a group of Invercargill youths are responsible for many of these vehicle thefts, and recent burglaries targeting vape stores in Invercargill and Winton."

A police spokesperson said three of the youths were before the youth justice system, and investigations into the thefts were ongoing.

Police reminded owners to ensure their vehicles were locked and if possible, securely parked overnight, and said consideration should be given to installing an immobiliser or an additional locking device.

Anyone with information regarding vehicle thefts was asked to contact police.