After an "epic" long weekend in Queenstown, Rire Norman
didn't expect to return after five days to an empty car
Someone had stolen the 34-year-old's "pride and joy", a 1992
manual, diesel Toyota Hilux Surf.
And Ms Norman is not alone. She's one of 12 travellers who
have returned from trips over the last two weeks to find
their car stolen from Memorial Ave and Russley Rd. Many were
parked there to avoid the expense of parking at Christchurch
"I was told it was safe and people leave their cars there all
the time," said Ms Norman - a freelance public relations
advisor and DJ. "There are cars parked bumper to bumper. Just
before I left for Queenstown on February 7, I spent the last
$2000 I had on repairs, registration and a warrant of
fitness. It was an expense I couldn't really afford but it
had to be done. I came back last Tuesday to find it gone.
"My world caved in. I was so upset. It was one of the few
assets I owned," she said.
Star inquiries revealed yesterday it would cost
commuters $75 to park in the airport's long term carpark for
a week and $25 per day thereafter; $50 for two days in the
short term carpark, $5 per hour thereafter and $150 for a
week in the carpark building.
While there are security cameras and patrol staff that
regularly check on vehicles parked at the airport, if your
vehicle is stolen, the airport will be not be held
responsible and vehicle safety isn't guaranteed, a
Christchurch Airport spokesman said.
"I was so busy," Ms Norman said. "I couldn't take a bus to
get to the airport in time for my flight that's why I drove.
I didn't park at the airport because it's too expensive and I
have a budget to stick to. Thieves don't have a conscience
and they don't understand the impact they inflict on their
victims. I am still so angry and upset. The car meant freedom
to me, it was my livelihood and it wasn't insured so it makes
it worse," she said.
Detective Senior Sergeant Corrie Parnell said 4WD thefts had
escalated in Christchurch.
"Clearly this is a big problem and we are working hard at
putting extra resources into catching these crooks. Due to
the high amount of hiluxs on the road and their 'run forever'
reputation the supply and demand has gone through the roof.
Being a hilux fan myself, I can see this first hand. They are
a hot commodity. It's got to the point where the operation is
that polished, if you blink you'll miss it."
In the last two weeks, four Nissan Terranos, two Mitsubishis,
two Toyota Hiluxs and four cars have been stolen.
Detective Senior Sergeant Parnell said last week the owner of
a stolen 4WD identified it after thieves had "re birthed" it.
Rebirthing is when a car's firewall and plates are removed
and replaced with another non-stolen vehicle's for a
"The recovered 4WD was the best rebirthing job I'd seen.
These crooks know what they are doing," he said.
Two years ago 69 per cent of stolen vehicles were recovered
but in the last year most stolen 4WDs are not being
recovered, Detective Senior Sergeant Parnell said.
- By Samantha McPherson of the Star