Police have caught a group of young people, the youngest aged 12, breaking into cars on Kāpiti Coast.
Members of the public called police between 12.15am and 1.15am today, reporting youths were interfering with vehicles in the Waikanae Beach area.
The group fled in two vehicles when they were disturbed, but police located them a short time later on Titoki Rd and on Heperi St.
Three young people fled each vehicle on foot, before being arrested.
Six people were involved and were expected to be referred to Youth Aid after a series of vehicles were broken into and stolen in Kāpiti, police said.
Two of the youths were 12, two were 13, one was 15 and one was 16.
Kāpiti-Mana Area Commander Inspector Tracey Thompson praised the work of officers who located the young people and thanked members of the public who called police.
Thompson said the age of the group was a "real worry".
"I'm aware that the recent spate of vehicle thefts is something our Kāpiti community are really concerned about. It's not an issue police can address alone.
"We need all of our whānau and community to wrap themselves around vulnerable young people to steer them towards better outcomes."
Kāpiti Coast district mayor K Gurunathan said residents had alerted him to an increase in vehicle-related crime in recent months.
He applauded the quick actions of local police officers in corralling the six culprits.
"Like the police, I am concerned by the young age of these offenders and the cultural influence of social media that we've seen in other similar youth offending."
He said it was a community issue that needed the knowledge and expertise of schools, parents, caregivers, providers and frontline practitioners to address.
"This antisocial behaviour can't just be a problem for police to clean up – that's like parking the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff."