Car Crime: Auckland’s Worst Suburbs

Where are Auckland’s worst areas for car crime, and what cars do thieves target? Canstar reveals the suburbs and makes of cars most targeted by criminals.

Unfortunately, it’s a sinking feeling that too many Aucklanders experience. You return to your car to find a door open or a window smashed, the glove compartment ransacked and your possessions gone.

Or, worse still, your car isn’t where you left it. You look around, questioning yourself: “Did I park it elsewhere?” Before the reality hits. You are the victim of car crime.

Fortunately, few car crimes lead to physical harm. But they are a major, often expensive, hassle. Cars and possessions have to be replaced. Or you have to cover the cost of your excess to fix broken windows or locks.

In the Auckland region, over 2023, police figures reveal there were just over 5400 reported car crimes across the region. Incidents were spread out pretty evenly day-to-day over the weeks, but Fridays to Mondays were the most popular days for thieves to strike, and Wednesday the least popular – a pattern that matches the previous year’s figures.

But while the crimes were spread evenly over the weeks, the locations of the car crimes were far more concentrated, centered around busy residential and commercial centres.

Auckland’s worst suburbs for car crime

Coming in at No.1 on the list of the worst places to park your car in the City of Sails is downtown Auckland, averaging five car-related crimes per day.

Location No. Crimes
Downtown Auckland 1882
Maungawhau (Mt Eden) 350
Takanini 259
Onehunga 241
Balmoral 221
Papatoetoe 221
LynnMall 215

Auckland’s central car-crime strip

However, as you’d expect, car crimes seem to pretty much follow the main highways, and anywhere else there’s a proliferation of parked cars.

As you can see from this map (the darker the shaded suburb, the more car crime), the areas around Mount Eden, One Tree Hill and Cornwall Park are also crime hotspots. Visitors park, leave for a gentle stroll around the picturesque landmarks, only to return to find thieves have broken into their cars.

Unfortunately, parked cars attract criminals – a fact borne out by other crime locations on our list.

Areas such as Onehunga, Sandringham and LynnMall are favourite destinations for shoppers. While Parnell and Newmarket are close to popular leisure spots, yet more shops, plus busy hospital parking areas.

However, industrial areas and residential suburbs are also targets, and our list of top car crime areas includes Albany in the north of the city, down to Manukau, Takanini, Papatoetoe and the Donegal Park and Ormiston suburbs in the south.

Crime Hotspots: North to South and East to Weat


  • Albany (191)
  • North Harbour (111)
  • Glenfield (85)
  • West Lake (71)
  • Target Road (63)

Central Auckland

  • Downtown (1882)
  • Maungawhau (Mt Eden) (350)
  • Onehunga (241)
  • Mount Wellington (226)
  • Balmoral (221)
  • Sandringham (172)
  • East to Ellerslie (120)
  • One Tree Hill (118)
  • Hillsborough (118)
  • Otahuhu (97)
  • Three Kings (91)
  • Royal Oak (80)


  • Takanini (259)
  • Papatoetoe (221)
  • Manakau (165)
  • Manurewa (109)

South West

  • Ormiston (112)
  • Donegal Park (81)

South East

  • Mangere (163)


  • Lynmall (215)
  • Henderson (215)

How to deter car thieves

Of course, if you’re a criminal looking to break into cars, you are going to target places where there are lots of unattended automobiles, and where your presence isn’t going to attract too much attention: think busy car parks. But while the average motorist can’t avoid parking in such places, there are steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of car crime:

  • Always ensure your car is locked
  • Try to park in a busy area, with surveillance cameras if possible
  • Park in a secure garage overnight, instead of on the street
  • Don’t leave valuables in your car
  • Don’t leave worthless items in your car that could attract thieves – for example, an empty bag or briefcase

Your choice of car, too, can play an important part in whether it’s targeted by thieves.

Compare Outstanding Value Car Insurance with Canstar

Looking for great value car insurance for you and your family? Each year, we release our car insurance awards, including winners for Insurer of the Year, Outstanding Value, and Most Satisfied Customers. As part of our award results, we also publish our Outstanding Value Star Ratings, covering car insurance for different age groups. Below are our top-rated providers in the drivers aged 30-49 category. Click here to view our complete car insurance Star Ratings for all age groups.

Comprehensive Cover: Drivers 30-49:

Provider Star Rating

See here for our ratings methodology. The table above is an abridged version of our research. For the full results of our latest Car Insurance Ratings and Award, click here.

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Cars most targeted by thieves

Over the last six months (to 13/02/23), 4964 cars, motorbikes, trucks, trailers and utes were stolen in NZ, down 10% from around 5500 in the first half of last year. Discard the bikes and trailers and the number is approximately 3634 vehicles, which averages out to about 20 cars, trucks and utes nicked every day.

Most stolen cars in NZ

On the lists of most stolen cars there are always the perennial popular family runabouts. Think the Toyota Corolla, the Mazda Atenza and Demio models and the Nissan Tiida. And, looking at the latest NZ Police figures, family cars are the most stolen. The most commonly stolen types of car are station wagons/SUVs, saloons and hatchbacks:

No. Thefts Type of vehicle
1059 Station Wagons/SUV
870 Saloons
731 Hatchbacks
652 Utes
246 Motorbikes
305 Vans/Trucks
165 Mopeds
19 Mobile Homes
17 Convertibles

Of those, the top ten makes of cars stolen were:

Car Brand No. Stolen
Toyota 959
Nissan 536
Mazda 504
Ford 342
Holden 194
Mitsubishi 181
Honda 172
Subaru 168
BMW 112
Volkswagen 67

But the top ten of the makes and models targeted by thieves is dominated by utes and work vehicles:

Car Brand/Model No. Stolen
Toyota Hilux 203
Toyota Hiace 138
Ford Courier 136
Toyota Corolla 93
Nissan Tiida 86
Mazda Atenza 85
Mazda Bounty 85
Nissan Navara 83
Holden Commodore 80
Mazda Demio 77

But before you despair about car crime, one important factor links all the car thefts listed above: the age of the cars taken. The vast majority of the cars and utes stolen were pre-2012 models (84%), 15% were registered between 2012-19, and just a few (1%) were recent 2020+ models.

What this says about the nature of car crime is that new cars with sophisticated security systems are a lot harder to steal, and therefore less of a target for young joyriders.

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About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar’s Editor, Bruce Pitchers. Bruce began his career writing about pop culture, and spent a decade in sports journalism. More recently, he’s applied his editing and writing skills to the world of finance and property. Prior to Canstar, he worked as a freelancer, including for The Australian Financial Review, the NZ Financial Markets Authority, and for real estate companies on both sides of the Tasman.

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