A retired Auckland couple moving to Hawke's Bay hope alert bystanders on the streets of Napier will be able to unravel the mystery disappearance and suspected theft of their station wagon from the roadside outside the Napier Courthouse on Monday.
The silver 2003 Nissan Wingroad was found about six hours later, parked a few hundred metres up the road, but with an estimated 100km extra on the clock.
Paddy Bartlett said he and his wife, also known as Paddy, parked and locked the vehicle in invalid parking on Hastings St, barely 20m from the courthouse entrance, about midday.
When they returned a few minutes later it was gone. They told staff at the courthouse and at the Napier Police Station soon afterwards.
Bartlett, the husband, said they returned to their motel, pondering what to do next, and were out walking heading for a restaurant near the CBD when his wife saw the vehicle parked near the ANZ Bank about 6pm.
It was undamaged, locked, and nothing appeared to have been taken from the vehicle. "Not even the booze or the brand-new shoes," he said.
The couple started to "doubt" themselves, but it was understood yesterday their vehicle had been seen parked near the courthouse by people working in the area but who did not see it being removed.
The couple yesterday took possession of the keys of a home they have bought in Waipukurau.
Originally from Canterbury, where he played rugby for Canterbury Country in the era of All Blacks Alex "Grizz" Wylie, Wayne Smith and other stars, Bartlett coached the sport in the US for 18 years. Returning to New Zealand the couple managed facilities on Kawau Island for eight years before retiring to Auckland, and ultimately decided on the move back to the regions.
Police are seeking information about the movements of the vehicle and anyone in the vicinity of where it was parked.