Thiev­ery hits tourist hard

The Northland Age - - Local News - By Peter de Graaf

A back­packer stay­ing in Pai­hia has been left with­out wheels and out of pocket af­ter a brazen thief stole his car, dumped it and torched it.

How­ever, Marvin Rieger, from Ger­many, said the re­sponse af­ter­wards from the Pai­hia com­mu­nity had reaf­firmed his view of New Zealan­ders as the friendli­est peo­ple he’d known.

The 19 year old, who is nine months into a work­ing hol­i­day, was work­ing as a dish­washer on Fri­day night when his dorm room at Bay Ad­ven­turer on Kings Rd was bur­gled.

Items taken in­cluded the keys to Rieger’s Toy­ota Ter­cel and a back­pack with a pass­port be­long­ing to Greg Tasker from Liver­pool. A lap­top and a credit card were taken from other trav­ellers in the room.

Rieger went to lend his car to a friend on Satur­day morn­ing and couldn’t find his keys. Then he re­alised his car was miss­ing too — CCTV showed it had been taken at day­break from the hos­tel car park — and room­mates no­ticed their prop­erty was also miss­ing.

The thief was es­pe­cially brazen be­cause a guest was asleep in the room at the time and oth­ers were sit­ting in a nearby court­yard.

Rieger called po­lice and had a de­press­ing day fill­ing in re­ports and won­der­ing how he was go­ing to con­tinue his trav­els with­out a car. At 9am on Sun­day po­lice re­turned to the hos­tel.

“They said, ‘We have bad news for you, we have found your car’. I said, ‘Why is that bad?’, and they told me it had been burnt out.”

Po­lice dis­cov­ered the stolen credit card had been used to buy to­bacco at Cal­tex Wai­tangi — and three piz­zas at the bar where Tasker was work­ing.

Adding in­sult to in­jury, Rieger learned he was legally re­spon­si­ble for the cost of re­mov­ing the wreck, up to $300, from a park­ing area at Mt Bledis­loe near Wai­tangi.

On Mon­day, how­ever, Tim New­man, a King’s Rd bar man­ager, put up a Face­book post about Rieger’s plight.

“It just ex­ploded . . . some­one wanted to give me $100, other peo­ple of­fered to come by and give me stuff, or or­gan­ise to get it towed. They were re­ally an­noyed and said it [the theft] wasn’t a good way to rep­re­sent the town. It was crazy. I re­ally like the com­mu­nity here.”

Rieger said he was grate­ful to ev­ery­one who had re­sponded, but es­pe­cially New­man and Haruru Falls man Bruce Gor­don who ar­ranged to have the wreck re­moved.

Mean­while, Tasker is hop­ing he can ap­ply for a new pass­port on­line and get it posted to him from the UK.

Both said the in­ci­dent hadn’t soured their view of New Zealand.

“There’s a few bad peo­ple ev­ery­where you go,” Tasker said.

Rieger was sorry to lose the car, which was old but “amaz­ing”. He had kept a piece of metal as a sou­venir and was con­sid­er­ing get­ting a small tat­too of the car as a re­minder.

Po­lice be­lieve they know the of­fender.

PIC­TURE / PETER DE GRAAF

Ger­man back­packer Marvin Rieger with fel­low trav­ellers Greg Tasker and Katha­rina Wall­horn, and all that’s left of his car af­ter it was stolen and torched.

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