How our car was stolen and then recovered

How our car was stolen and then recovered


This morning, my wife called me to ask me if I’ve moved her car. Questions like this spark immediate concern!

Yes, my wife’s car was stolen last night from right outside our house. Ok it was only a 1992 Nissan Bluebird, registration plate TZ9717, but the thing about a 1992 Nissan Bluebird is that if you own a 1992 Nissan Bluebird it’s generally because you can’t afford anything flasher than a 1992 Nissan Bluebird. So in some ways, losing our Nissan has caused us as much grief as if we’d lost a BMW M3.

Secretly I was also upset as, despite the fact that I have a Hilux 4WD, my wife’s car is the only one with a tow bar and we were planning on using it extensively to help us move into our first home in a couple of weeks.

Anyway. Worse than having a car stolen from you is the underlying feeling that it was stolen from you by someone in the immediate neighbourhood.

Not so long ago, we noticed that someone had been stealing petrol from it. So we put a lockable petrol cap on it. Not long after that, we noticed that someone was stealing mail from our mailbox. So we put a padlock on the mailbox. Not long after that, we noticed that someone was using our wheelie bin for their own refuse disposal. If we had a big enough chain, I swear I’d put a padlock on that too.

I feel like these three absolutely heinous crimes are in someway related. I’d love to think it’s not the older guy two doors from me who quite happily says hello when he sees us in the street … but I did startle him once while he was walking up to our mailbox one day. The way he suddenly realised I was watching him and then did a sharp 180 and hurridly walked off in the opposite direction really made me wonder. He also seems to sit at home all day smoking drugs with random people that turn up at the house so he’s not exactly a first-rate citizen EVEN THOUGH he leant me his hose once.

But hey. At least we have insurance right? And I’m talking the full blown “all the options” insurance from a reputable company like AMI. Although … wait a sec. I was very careful to select “Agreed Value” when we got our car insurance as I’d been stung with “Market Value” before.

Market Value is where you pay a premium each month and when your car gets stolen or someone ploughs into it with his Subaru (thanks Jeremy by the way) the insurance company gets one of their guys to look at your car and say “Yeah .. it’s worth about this much” and they pay you that much minus your excess.

HOWEVER. Here’s the part that sucks. We check our insurance documents and find that AMI have lowered the AGREED value of our car by $200 dollars. What’s that all about AMI? Well it’s because it’s depreciated in value. OK so what’s Market Value all about then?? Well … that’s when we value your car based on how much it’s depreciated in value. OK so what’s AGREED value then??? Well … ok yeah we’re just trying to screw you. Suckers! So you lowered the value of our car. Did you lower the amount we pay each month? No. We put it up. Yeah. We feel bad now … NOT!

replacement carSo in summary, by the time we’ve paid our excess and received our payment from our insurance company, we’ll have about $1000 and no car. What can we get for $1000? Well … we can a decent battery powered kid’s quad bike. That should do us. I hear that Christchurch will be fitted with NZ’s first charge-point network for recharging electric cars so we’ll be set.


It’s about an hour since I wrote this post. After publishing it, I went to pick my wife up from the mall where she was having training for her new job (had to pick her up as she had no car … are you following the story?). On the way home, I was casually keeping an eye out for any Bluebirds parked in dodgy alleys.

We’re travelling down Brougham Street towards the Lyttelton tunnel and through the trees I spot a Bluebird parked in a dead-end street. The Bluebird had a small white rectangular sticker in the back window. Hmm … that looks familiar. So I take a few random turnings down side-roads while my wife looks at my with a confused expression. Then we round the final corner and ….

Bluebird stolen and recovered car in Christchurch

… bam! There’s our car. It was on Vincent Place, Woolston. If you have a car that’s still not been recovered, maybe it’s down there too?


Whoever stole it:

Bluebird-stolen-and-recovereda) was a girl or had a girl with them (there was girl’s deoderant and yeah I thought it was some sniffing drug abuser but then we found some girl’s lip balm as well)

b) used half a tank of petrol and didn’t exactly do the tyres and brakes any favours

c) was probably going to come back for a second go

I assume they were going to come back because they’d actually re-locked the car! They’d forced the ignition but other than that there was no damage to the car at all. Plus they’d left the perfectly-stealable CD player stereo AND they’d even left their own CD in the player.

I’m almost tempted to park it up in the same spot and then do a Lethal Weapon style stake-out. But I really don’t have the patience for that.

So, we called the cops. I told them what brand of deoderant and lip balm was in the car and they instantly knew EXACTLY who the criminal was and said they’ll knock on their door any day now (I hope all car criminals are reading this and know how amazingly efficient the police are)*

The car itself is now parked right outside our front door, which happens to be directly below our bedroom window, plus I have carefully made a few minor adjustments to the vehicle which means that anyone driving away in it will very soon end up in the Avon river.

Now I get to call AMI back and tell them to change my policy.

P.S. My wife and I would like to say thank you to all the people on Twitter who re-tweeted my status update in order to help us find our car or offered words of advice.


@HatchiNZ @daz_bLazem @nzben @simonleslienz @phillipnewmannz @ditzy_m @I_enigma @MiramarMike … you guys rock our socks. Thank you.

*The part about the cops being efficient wasn’t true.

  • Ales

    Hi Mark
    I liked this. Not that your wife´s car had been stolen but as you had found it and retrieved. Coincidently I know this place. Back then when I was there I used have a casual job not far away from Thomas´s place somewhere in Woolston. Seemed like nice place to me but…. :-) Bad people might be everywhere ey :-)
    Anyway well done finding the car and good way to finish this experience.
    Hope you have a good time and you and your wife are going to like your new home.
    BTW: The Czech republic has first gold from Winter olympic games… niiiicceeeee :-)

  • Thanks for your comment Ales! And your shameless excuse to give a free shout out to the Czech olympics!

  • I’m glad you found your Bluebird. What gets me is that the police were able to identify the crook based on the brand of deodorant and lip balm. Instantly, I got images of the police, searching on their computers under Rexona or L’Oréal.

  • Haha cheers but yeah I was joking about that part ;) The cops had no idea whatsoever. I said that to make the criminal think that their game was up and the cops were onto them!

  • Mark for a situation that is indeed very stressful, you turned it into an excellent yarn, thoroughly enjoyed the read. glad you got your car back, me I would have preferred the stake out option myself!!

  • Chris Flack

    Stake out would be awesome – or dress up as ninjas.

  • Cheers Dave! I’ve got your number – I’ll give you a call next time it gets stolen! You bring the donuts!

    Chris. Yes. True. No one steals from ninjas.

  • Have you “withdrawn” your request? You may find someone runs up to your car and punches you, whilst trying to raise you on the phone.
    I hope your new house is far away from that area!

    We arrived home one day to find an eldery “gentleman” helping himself to wood on our property (we were having an extention built). He enthusiaaticly explained how we should help ourselves as it would only go to waste. The look on his face, when he realsied it was our wood, was priceless.

  • Wow that’s a really good point. For those who haven’t caught up yet, I asked “if anyone sees this car driving around town, please run up to it and punch the driver in the face” as he would have been the guy who stole it. Except… we got it back … so that driver would now be me or my wife.

    I would now officially like to withdraw the request for punches in the face! I can see it now. I’m driving along, my cellphone rings, I answer it (obviously using a handsfree kit as I’d hate to do anything illegal). Someone starts to tell me they can see the guy who stole my car. Next second, a passerby swings his fist through the window and into my face while yelling into a cellphone “I’ve got him! Get over here right now and get your car back!”.