Patrice Dougan is the Herald's education reporter.

Tourist's stolen car found (but with just one shoe inside)

A car stolen form an American tourist, which contained all her belongings, has been recovered - with only one shoe inside.

Danica Klas, 21, from Oregon, lost almost everything she owned when the dark blue Subaru Legacy was stolen from Marsden Ave in the Auckland suburb of Mt Eden while she stayed at a friend's house on Saturday night. She had been travelling and living in the vehicle, and all her belongings were inside - including her backpack full of clothes, sleeping bag, her ukulele, camera with all her travel snaps, and iPad. She had only the dress she was wearing, her phone, wallet, a journal, and her passport.

She found out this morning the station wagon had been towed from a hotel carpark in Greenlane, and travelled to Otahuhu to retrieve it.

After initially getting her hopes up, Ms Klas was devastated to discover the car had been trashed, and all her things stolen.

"I was hoping ... I was like, 'they don't want my clothes, they don't want any of that, maybe they'll just take the instrument and go', but no it was all gone," she said.

"I was able to get my papers and there were some things that must have fallen out of some of the boxes I had, that was nice to see, but it's pretty trashed."

Luckily her important documents, such as her birth certificate and social security number, were left inside the car.

"If they were smart enough they could have used that in the States ... If that was found back home they could've done a lot of things, but I don't think they knew that so that's one good relief."

They also left her postcards and souvenirs she had been collecting on her travels.

However, the steering wheel was destroyed because the thieves hotwired the car, and it can now only be driven using a screwdriver. And there was blood all over the driver's seat.

Her plan to sell the vehicle to fund the rest of her travels and get work again in Queenstown has now been scuppered, as it's so damaged she believes it will only be suitable for scrap.

She's also been left forking out a $200 tow charge, and re-fuelling the car after the thieves appeared to have emptied the tank taking it for a joyride.

"It was recovered in the Novotel in Greenlane, so pretty close to [Mt Eden], but I was keeping a track of the mileage and they drove around at least 100km probably," she said.

"They probably took it to wherever they live, dropped everything off and then scrapped it at the hotel."

The joyriders drank some beer she had in the car - but left one empty bottle - and also put her CD player back into the console and played CDs she did not have in the car, she said.

"All the wheels and stuff are there and the engine is there, so they really only wanted the stuff inside. Which is funny because I was like, 'you can have the car just leave my stuff'. But everything that I was hoping was going to be there is gone."

She added: "They took all my shoes, left one shoe. So I'm still shoeless."

Despite finding her car, she said she's "almost in the same position" as she was: "But now I know that I'm not getting anything back."

"At this point I still have nothing, just now more of a burden because I have this to deal with.," she said.

But it's made one decision easier - being able to accept all the offers of help and clothing that flooded in after her story was published in nzherald.co.nz on Sunday night.

"I was kind of hesitant to accept things from people just in case they did find all my stuff, but now that I know that I actually won't get that back it's much easier for me to accept things," she said.

Ms Klas was inundated with Facebook friend requests and messages, and readers also emailed into the Herald with offers to help her. Offers ranged from donations, to clothes, shoes, a replacement vehicle as well as a ukulele from the NZ Ukulele Trust. She was also offered free shoes from Queen St store Eurobrands, and a free bus tour pass with travel company Stray.

She has also been invited to attend a ukulele concert in Auckland at the weekend.

- NZ Herald

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