Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Terror as $65k car stolen at gunpoint

A suspect in the carjacking was captured on CCTV footage.
A suspect in the carjacking was captured on CCTV footage.

A carjack victim has described the terrifying moment a pistol was pointed at his back after a young woman at a McDonald's carpark duped him into giving her a ride.

Police are hunting a couple who stole Shaarn Crosswell's distinctive $65,000 Nissan car at gunpoint early yesterday, after his night out went badly wrong.

Police are alarmed about the incident, and warn the public not to approach the "armed and dangerous" culprits. They have released video footage of one of the alleged offenders in the hope someone will recognise him. "We don't have a lot of carjackings at gunpoint in New Zealand," said Detective Sergeant James Watson. "This guy was just getting a burger."

Watson said there had been a similar incident last Wednesday when another woman lured a man "on the promise of something more than just a cigarette" to a secluded spot on Auckland's North Shore. When they arrived, a male emerged and assaulted the man, allegedly stealing his keys and his laptop, said Watson. He has been charged with aggravated robbery.

In yesterday's carjacking, Crosswell, a 21-year-old Auckland student and self-confessed car nut, was heading home when he pulled into the drive-through at McDonald's in Albany, where other revellers were ending their nights with something to eat.

He had just parked up to eat his McFlurry when an "innocent enough looking" young brunette, aged in her 20s, tapped on his window and asked for ride to Orewa. Feeling sorry for her, he said he'd take her as far as the Albany bus depot.

"She's like 'sweet', so she jumped in and then just as I'm about to pull off she says, 'hold on, my mate's grabbing his bag'."

A man, who Crosswell thought to be her boyfriend, jumped into the back seat.

Crosswell said the couple seemed friendly so he agreed to take them both to the depot.

But suddenly, the man pleaded for Crosswell to stop the car. "He said 'Ah man, I've really got to take a leak bad'. I thought he might be a little bit tipsy and I didn't want him to pee in my car ... so I pulled over."

The man then told Crosswell to get out of the car.

"I went to turn around to punch him but then I noticed he had a black pistol to my back with a long silencer scope on it. He was just pointing it at me, about 3cm or 4cm from my back.

"I was thinking, I don't know if this guy's going to shoot me. I didn't know if he was on something or what. He had a silencer so he must have been pretty serious."

Crosswell got out of the car, his arms raised, while the thief struggled to work out how the car's gears worked. "Eventually he just nailed it and took off."

The $65,000 Nissan Skyline GTR.
The $65,000 Nissan Skyline GTR.

Crosswell was distraught. He estimated the car, a Nissan R34 GT-R V-spec Model, was worth about $65,000 after the extensive modifications he had made.

"I'm so gutted, it was my baby.

"It's quite a rare car here in New Zealand and it's one of the tidiest around as well. It's not just some Skyline that's just been thrashed." The white car has the number plate STIG.

Detective Sergeant Watson hoped releasing video of the man at McDonald's just before the incident would lead to his arrest.

He said if anyone came across the car, they should call police immediately, but not approach the vehicle or its occupants.

Anyone with information was urged to contact Watson at North Shore police on (09) 477 500 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

CCTV footage of the suspect in the carjacking.
CCTV footage of the suspect in the carjacking.

- APNZ

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