Ripped-off family get a bit of good news

The Schwarz family had a grim surprise on Saturday evening when they returned to a central Auckland Wilson carpark to find their car had been stolen. Photo: Dean Purcell
The Schwarz family had a grim surprise on Saturday evening when they returned to a central Auckland Wilson carpark to find their car had been stolen. Photo: Dean Purcell

Things are looking up for a family of German tourists who had their car and belongings stolen then came across a woman allegedly selling their belongings the next day.

In a lucky twist of fate the Schwarz family, who had been in Auckland since Boxing Day, came across their blue Honda Odyssey abandoned on Beresford St around 3.30pm.

The car, which Robin Schwarz had bought to use over a five-month stay in the country, had been left with a smashed window and the headlights left on.

"We contacted police and then waited for them to get here," Schwarz said.

The car was empty - the luggage and possessions inside gone - but Schwarz said he was over the moon to have it back.

"I'm really happy - I can't explain my feelings," he said.

It had been a traumatic few days for the family, since returning to a central Auckland Wilson carpark on Saturday evening to find their car had been stolen.

Only a few shards of glass marked where Robin's blue Honda Odyssey had been parked.

Robin said a man who was also in the carpark called Wilson on their behalf.

"He talked with them and then said to us, 'the Wilson employee said that he can't help'."

Disheartened and helpless without their luggage or passports with which to board their flight the next night, the family filed a police report about the theft.

The next day, Schwarz and the boys headed into the city for food but were shocked to find a silver car parked outside their Queen St backpackers with three women sitting inside - one of whom appeared to be selling clothes to passers-by from one of the family's missing bags.

Schwarz said she stormed over to the car and saw a child in the car was wearing her youngest son's jeans and one of her shirts.

Schwarz confronted the woman and tried to wrestle the suitcase from her but the woman fought back, claiming she had found the suitcase on the street.

Soon after, a worker at the backpackers called the police on Schwarz's behalf. The family waited outside from 8pm until 11pm, Elke said, but the police never turned up.

While waiting, she approached the woman in the car several times pleading for her help to retrieve their passports.

"I told her it was very important that we get our passports because we needed to get back to Germany. The flight was that evening at 8.45pm."

The woman told them she had "many friends who stole things" and said she would put the word out to help find the passports.

But 8.45pm came and went, and Schwarz and her sons spent another sleepless night in the backpackers.

The next morning the family headed to the German consulate where they acquired temporary passports.

The family heard from the consulate again soon after - a group of tourists from the Netherlands had found three of their stolen passports behind a carpark on Grafton Rd.

On Tuesday morning police confirmed the last passport was returned to the family after being handed in by a member of the public.

Inspector Ben Offner said a number of other items were also handed in by this person.

Investigators were following "strong lines of inquiry" to identify those behind the theft and finding the stolen vehicle.

There was a "very big list" of items that were still missing, which Schwarz and his family hoped police would help locate.

Schwarz was been on the way to the airport with his mother and two brothers when speaking to the Herald on Wednesday evening.

The trio had changed their flights from this coming Sunday, to today, after having their passports returned.

Wilson spokeswoman Anne-Marie Petersen said the company was sorry to hear about the theft and had provided all footage to police.

"The footage has captured the offenders breaking out of the car park and we certainly hope it helps recover the stolen property," Peterson said.

Comments

Re: Ripped Off Family.
This debacle is a disgrace and a black mark upon New Zealand and our Police Department. I'm reasonably positive that if the same event occurred to me in any European Country they would have endeavoured to assist in any way possible - not leaving me to my own devices in a strange country. SHAME ON NEW ZEALAND, SHAME ON OUR POLICE DEPARTMENT!!!