The Gold Coast has been tagged the "chop shop hot spot" of the stolen car world as the number of car parts being sold on the online black market has spiked.
National Motor Vehicles Theft Reduction Council figures show nearly 400 cars were stolen for profit in the past 12 months; up 11 per cent on the previous year.
Panelbeaters say the stolen parts are flooding online trading sites such as Gumtree and warned buyers to beware.
Southport was the most targeted suburb as crooks stole 38 cars, an increase of 60 per cent in just one year.
Car theft is on the rise
Surfers Paradise (27 from 21), Labrador (20 from 13) and Pacific Pines (12 from four) were other big movers.
The National Motor Vehicles Theft Reduction Council said cars were being stripped for parts and sold online to unsuspecting motorists, panelbeaters and mechanics.
"Profit-motivated theft is when vehicles are stolen for conversion to profit either as a whole vehicle or as separated parts through illegal methods," said council spokeswoman Christine Pejic said. "Vehicles stolen, not recovered, are used as the surrogate measure for profit-motivated theft.
"If (you) are the owner of an older vehicle manufactured prior to 2001 the best method of protection is to fit an Australian-standards approved engine immobiliser.
"The most important advice for owners of later model vehicles is to look after car keys. In about 70 per cent of late model thefts, the thief has been able to gain access to the keys."
Gold Coast Police would not comment on the issue.
Cars are being stolen then sold for their parts
RACQ executive safety manager Steve Spalding said the city was the state's "chop shop hotspot" and warned motorists to lock their cars and be careful what they buy.
"These thefts are purely motivated by the desire to strip or sell the vehicle for profit," Mr Spalding said.
"In the vast majority of cases, the car keys are stolen. For thieves, if you get the keys, you get the car."
The findings contradict the overall number of cars stolen, which dropped slightly to 1191.
Southport was the city's worst suburb with 104 cars taken, then Surfers Paradise (98), Labrador (55), Nerang (50) and Bilinga (46).
The number of cars being stolen for profit was no surprise to Southport-based panel beater Craig Depina who said criminals were selling dodgy goods on Gumtree in a bid to avoid detection by police.
"I was looking at parts on Gumtree and there's no way to tell if a part has been stolen but if I bought a stolen part and sold it … I might void my insurance," Mr Depina said.
He said if possible check who is registered to the vehicle that the part is coming from.
Gold Coast's car theft hotspots
Southport - 104
Surfers Paradise - 98
Labrador - 55
Nerang - 50
Bilinga - 46
Have you bought car parts only to find out they were stolen? Let us know in the comments below.