Police have arrested a man over the theft of a laptop belonging to North Harbour rugby coach and former All Black Liam Barry.

The laptop disappeared during Barry's visit to Tauranga with his team at the weekend.

But the man arrested says he found the computer in a carpark and did everything he could to return it.

Robert Krause, a former Karangahape Rd tattoo artist, says he was out celebrating his birthday at the Bureta Park Motor Inn restaurant on Friday night when he found the laptop bag in a carpark, not knowing it belonged to Barry.

Krause says he walked into the restaurant and placed the bag by his seat before noticing a group of people he thought might know who owned it.

"I saw these people walk out so I followed them and I wanted to ask them, 'Is this yours?'

"But there were too many of them. So then I put it in the car and thought I'd sort it out later. I'll take it to the police station and find out who owns it."

The next day, Krause said, he found Barry's contact details in the bag and he and his partner made two attempts to reach the coach by cellphone.

The couple claim that Barry returned their calls after 8 o'clock that night.

The coach asked them to drop the bag into the restaurant, and told them, "Thank you very much".

Krause said that at 8 o'clock the next morning, four police officers executed a search warrant at his partner's Gate Pa home and were directed to the laptop bag on a table.

Krause's partner was unable to prove she had phoned Barry on Saturday, as she had cleared her cellphone call log.

Barry's cellphone number did appear in the outgoing call log in Krause's cellphone, but the date and time were incorrect and showed January, as he had not set it correctly.

Krause said he would fight the charges using phone records if he had to. He is due to appear in Tauranga District Court on Friday.

When phoned for comment yesterday, Barry confirmed the laptop was his but said: "I don't want to discuss it ... You can talk to the police. It's still with them, I think."

Asked to confirm that Krause had tried to contact him on Saturday, he said: "No, it's with the police."