The officer, Luke Tollafield, who is bas' />

A McDonald's employee allegedly bought food using a credit card left behind accidentally by a policeman.

The officer, Luke Tollafield, who is based in South Auckland, joined a colleague for a breakfast meeting at a restaurant in West Auckland. He bought a coffee using his card.

Mr Tollafield forgot it and, when he called the outlet later, a manager told him he had it for safekeeping.

When he went to pick it up the next day staff, said they couldn't find it.

Mr Tollafield called Visa to cancel the card and was told it had been used at McDonald's to make a $2.30 purchase at 4am. A cheeseburger is the only item on the menu that costs $2.30.

McDonald's has introduced a system where customers no longer have to enter their PIN or sign for credit card purchases under $35.

The store went through its security camera footage and figured out who had made the purchase. However, it did not sack the staff member.

Mr Tollafield said he did not want to make a formal police complaint because of the size of the purchase and because it would clog up police resources - but he still hoped the employee, whom McDonald's refused to identify, would be fired.

"The owner was really nice and said, 'Oh yes, we've given him the sternest discipline we can,' which is a warning. Crikey, get out the wet bus ticket and beat him with that then.

"As far as I look at it, it's either theft or fraud by credit. I am just really disappointed with the manager's attitude at McDonald's. I think it's a dishonesty offence. That person is handling money. I don't know whether it's because I'm institutionalised, being a cop for 25 years, but I think it's wrong."

The owner of the McDonald's involved did not return calls.

But a national spokeswoman for the chain said the behaviour of the staff member, whom she declined to identify on privacy grounds, was "completely unacceptable".

"While we can't reveal in detail the action taken with regard to the employee, we can stress that the person in question was seriously disciplined. We do not take these incidents and our customer concerns lightly."

She said the company had apologised many times on behalf of the employee, by email and in several personal calls to Mr Tollafield.

Mr Tollafield said that while the company's new no sign or PIN system for credit purchases might make it faster to process the slow-moving chip cards, there was potential for theft to occur easily.