Brazen thieves stole the front end of a Vauxhall Corsa while it was parked outside the driver's house.
It is the latest example of the so-called Corsa Cannibals phenomenon, where criminals strip entire parts from the popular hatchback's bodywork.
The thieves struck overnight between Good Friday and Easter Saturday in Chester-le-Street, removing the bonnet, grille and lights from a silver Corsa.
The thieves smashed the front passenger window, leaned in to pop the bonnet open, then unscrewed the front of the car to leave the engine exposed.
A mechanic said it could have taken as little as 10 minutes to steal - all done while 45-year-old driver was asleep in his home, just yards away.
He said: "I could not believe my eyes when I saw it.
"My neighbour saw it first and she rang me to tell me the front of my car was missing.
"I am furious that someone has just taken what is not theirs and caused me a great deal of hassle.
"It was so brazen."
Vauxhall said its cars were targeted because they are popular.
Attacks have already been reported on Teesside, in Northern Ireland and Derbyshire.
A spokesman for the car manufacturer said: "There are no security or design issues with our best-selling Corsa.
"The Corsa has been a huge sales success since it was launched over 25 years ago, so there are proportionally more on the road than other less popular models.
"This is wanton vandalism; if a thief is determined enough they can steal parts from any make of car."