Lockdown no hurdle for teen thieves after car pinched from Auckland mechanic

Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 26 Aug 2021, 2:38PM
(Photo / File)
(Photo / File)

Lockdown no hurdle for teen thieves after car pinched from Auckland mechanic

Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 26 Aug 2021, 2:38PM

An Auckland couple who had to leave their car at a dealership over lockdown - after it was deemed unsafe to drive - got a "huge shock" when they learned it had been stolen from the reputable Newmarket site driven at high speed and abandoned.

They are now pleading with people not to steal from others during the lockdown, when Kiwis are already under immense stress and pressure.

The couple were relaxing at home with their family on last Friday when they were called by police to say their car had been found abandoned.

Until then, they thought it was safe and secure and awaiting repairs at Giltrap Newmarket.

They initially thought it was a scam but when police came to their house half an hour later to speak to them they were beyond shocked.

The couple, who did not want to be named, reached out to the Herald after reading about a spate of thefts and break ins of cars belonging to nurses working on the frontline in Auckland hospitals.

The man said earlier this month mechanics found a problem with his car's differential - set of gears that transmits engine power to the wheels - and it was not considered drivable.

The Holden SUV is two years old and still under warranty so it had been towed to Giltrap Newmarket, which carries out certified servicing.

Parts were ordered to repair the diff and were due to arrive last week.

But the after the level 4 national lockdown was announced last Tuesday, the repair was put on hold.

"I spoke to them and asked if the car would be safe and they said yes, it would," said the man.

"It's a big dealership and service centre so I didn't expect this to happen.

"Then the police called."

The Holden has a keyless start function, which means a fob is need to enter the car and start the engine.

It is understood that was not taken so the man is perplexed as to how the thieves got it running.

The man said he was still waiting for the full details on the theft but had spoken to the general manager.

A spokesman from Giltrap Group said the company "regrets that this incident has occurred".

"We have been in communication with both the vehicle's owner and police, and we have offered to assist police with their ongoing investigation,' he said.

"An internal investigation into this incident is underway."

He could not comment further.

It is understood that because of the warranty and insurance, the cost of any further repairs or replacement of the car is covered.

Giltrap Newmarket is operating in a limited capacity over lockdown, servicing only essential services vehicles including police cars.

The couple were angry their vehicle had been targeted by thieves, especially during a national emergency.

Police confirmed they were investigating the theft.

A spokesperson said the car came to their attention after it was spotted speeding at about 5pm on the night it was stolen.

"The vehicle was tracked by police along the Southern Motorway until it exited at Sylvia Park Mall and the vehicle was abandoned on Fisher Corner," the spokesperson said.

"It was located by police and two youths aged 14 and 17 were arrested."

The owner was told the thieves reached speeds of at least 140km/h.

However, police said at no point was a pursuit activated.

"The vehicle hadn't been reported stolen at the time it was located by police, but it was subsequently established it had been stolen," the spokesperson said.

"The investigation remains ongoing."

The owners said it was disappointing they had become victims during the national lockdown.

"Seriously, we are going through this pandemic and everyone is under stress. People are not only breaching the lockdown rules, but they are stealing," the man said.

"It's so shocking."

The couple urged people to ask for help instead of stealing.

"This Government is being so generous with benefits and help during this pandemic… we are paying tax and working hard to help with that and we worked hard for our car," the man said.

"What is even the point in stealing like this?"