Thievery hits tourist hard
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.
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.