Thief escapes with warning

By Kathryn Powley

A car dealer who chased and caught a thief who'd taken his wallet is angry the culprit was let off with a warning.

The thief had limped up to Graeme Macdonald while leaning on a cane before rushing off, apparently able-bodied.

Macdonald was photographing a car for sale in West Auckland on Monday. He'd put his phone, diary and wallet in a bucket beside the car.

A Middle Eastern man, aged about 65, shuffled up and asked for $2, then a lift.

Macdonald said "no, sorry" then carried on cleaning the car's interior while the man walked away briskly, disappearing around some bushes about 300m away.

Macdonald, 44, checked the bucket and realised his wallet containing about $100 was gone. "I thought 'What an idiot'. I couldn't believe how dumb I'd been; he'd filched my wallet."

He sprinted after the man while phoning police.

"It was a big dash all the way to Sturges Rd train station about 1.5km away. I was knackered, I looked up as the police were turning up on the platform. We all converged on this guy."

The thief claimed the wallet was his, then that he'd found it. He was arrested but police phoned Macdonald the next morning to say he was "a poor wee man" and so they let him go with a formal police warning. His family promised to keep a closer eye on him, but Macdonald was not happy.

Macdonald said Henderson police did a great job catching the man; it was the system he was disappointed in.

"We have entrenched ourselves in a justice system that accepts no one is to blame for their actions, any excuse is enough to avoid consequences."

Waitakere area commander Steve Kehoe said a "pre-charge warning" was appropriate, particularly in cases where the offender was an adult and there were no reparation issues. Police would keep a note of the warning.

- Herald on Sunday

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