Police issue warning for Toyota Aqua owners after car targeted by criminals

Police have issued a warning for Toyota Aqua car owners as the model of car is being targeted by thieves.

Although the cars are late models, Acting Detective Sergeant Matt Barlett said police are seeing a trend involving the car.

"We are seeing a trend that they are being stolen and used in serious commercial burglaries.

Toyota Aqua, which is commonly known as a Toyota Prius C, is a subcompact five-door hatchback fully hybrid gasoline-electric car.

Senior Crime Officer Vaness Wardley said people can gain entry by smashing the quarter light windows and reaching inside the car to unlock its doors.

Wardley said once a person is inside the car the ignition is easily popped.

"And the reason why they've been able to be stolen is that they don't have any immobilisers," she said.

Barlett is recommending all Toyota Aqua car owners to purchase an immobiliser. While they are not cheap, he said it is a worthwhile investment.

"It can cost up to $500 but if your car is stolen, it's a similar cost to the excess on your insurance."

Toyota Aquas were a top used car purchased by New Zealanders in 2020, with 6,262 used Aquas being purchased according to the AA.

Used Toyota Aquas in New Zealand often sell from $12,000, with more recent models selling for over $20,000.

Last year, he said, some vehicle models were seen by offenders as being easier to steal than others, and these models were being specifically targeted.

"Many used imported second-hand vehicles do not have factory-fitted immobilisers, making them a preferred targets for offenders," he said.

Over a 12-month period from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, almost 9,500 vehicles were reported stolen across Auckland.

The most commonly stolen vehicle models during this period were the Mazda Demio and Nissan Tiida.

A video posted to TikTok by Waikato District Police shows a Toyota Aqua used in a smash-and-grab incident.

CCTV footage shows the car driving towards the shopfront of a liquor store multiple times to smash the door and windows.

Three people can then be seen running into the store, taking whatever they can.

Police are asking anyone who recognises any of the offenders in the video to contact police by calling 105, or through Crime Stoppers.

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