Seven vehicles in Gisborne were broken into in one night last week and a mum had her car stolen while she was metres away when picking up her child from school the week before.

Macedon Ranges local area commander Christopher Large confirmed there had been a “slight increase” in motor vehicle theft and theft from vehicles in the past four months.

That follows a 66.7 per cent increase in vehicles stolen in the year to September 30, 2017 according to Crime Statistics Agency data. Data shows there were 80 vehicles stolen in the area in the 12 month period to September, compared to 48 in the previous 12 months.

Marianne Tootell told Star Weekly her daughter had her car stolen when she was picking up her child from Hesket Primary School in the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday, February 20.

Ms Tootell said she was particularly concerned by what she described as the targeted nature of the theft, which occurred in an isolated area outside the small, “tucked away” school at 3.36pm.

She said two males in their mid-20s parked so close to her daughter’s car on Bowens Road that she had to reverse and re-park to create enough distance between the vehicles to get her baby from the car.

Ms Tootell said her daughter then left the car unlocked with the keys inside while she went just metres to the school gate to pick up her child. Police said witnesses saw one of the men jump in her car before both vehicles sped off.

Inspector Large is encouraging residents to lock their vehicles but not be alarmed by the rise in theft. He said there was a common theme of people leaving their vehicles unlocked.

“The Macedon Ranges, generally speaking, is a very safe place to be – but it’s not immune to crime,” he said. He said the seven vehicles broken into in Gisborne on February 28 had been left unlocked.

Valuables such as laptops were stolen from the cars. Police recovered some of the items from an abandoned property.