Daily US Times: When the entire New Zealand went under lockdown, a group of thieves went to work and it must have looked like the heist of their dreams. A whole yard full of well-maintained rental vehicles unlocked and all lined up, ready to go – with the keys inside.
The cars were parked on local rental company Jucy in Auckland. They cut through the fence, lifted the gate from its hinges, and began driving out the cars.
Due to coronavirus pandemic, the country was at a virtual standstill, which makes the theft easy. In fact, so easy it was a temptation too far – and the thieves came back for a second helping. And another. A total of 97 vehicles were spirited away.
Over the next several days, they drove the cars in batches from the site and down the deserted roads of Auckland. Jucy’s chief rental officer Tom Ruddenklau said, “It was like a kick in the guts to be honest. We couldn’t believe that when everyone was pitching in and looking after each other as a nation, there would be this brazen theft.”
‘Something was not quite right’
Jucy is a well-known sight on the roads of the country. So if you ever been there, it is pretty obvious that someone sees you. The company is one of the leading providers of camper vans, one of the most popular ways to explore the country.
Most of the vehicles stolen were normal city cars and only a few were camper vans, but the vans’ bright green signature colour is so easy to spot that stealing them would seem downright foolish. The company itself did not even notice the theft until they heard from the police.
The cars had been parked on a storage site and over the quiet days of Anzac weekend in late April, there’d been no checks by the company.
The heist happened as everyone was staying at homes due to lockdown rules, New Zealand’s roads were very empty at the time, but the police were still out on their usual patrol routes.
Police inspector Matt Srhoj said: “We realised that something was not quite righ. The cars caused suspicion by the way they were driven and a few of our patrol cars ended up in pursuit of those vehicles.”
“When we became aware that we came across quite a few of those Jucy vehicles in unusual circumstances we assumed they’d been stolen and alerted the company,” the police inspector added.
A wave of local support
A theft during normal times would have been bad enough, but particularly this one, in the middle of a pandemic situation, is hard to take for people.
The inspector said: “It’s disappointing – this is the biggest car heist I’ve ever seen. It is quite sad that people would do this kind of thing when we are under lockdown.”
New Zealand was then under a Level 4 lockdown, with measures going further than in most other countries.
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