The long arm of the law also has a very long memory, and Whanganui MP Chester Borrows showed just how long when he made a citizen's arrest in Patea on Monday.

The last time former policeman Mr Borrows made an arrest was when he was a serving police officer 12 years ago in the town.

But on Monday he took the law into his own hands after his cellphone was pinched from his car.

The Courts Minister said he thought he was doing a hitchhiker a favour when he picked a man up a few kilometres north of Wanganui on his way to Hawera.


Mr Borrows said he often gave hitchhikers a lift, so stopping to pick up the man just south of Maxwell on SH3 was not unusual.

"It was in the afternoon and a miserable sort of day anyway.

"He was going through to Patea and we chatted away for most of the trip."

But when he dropped the man off in Patea's main street, Mr Borrows noticed his cellphone was missing.

"I keep it in the centre console of my car so when I saw it wasn't there, I did a U-turn and caught up with this bloke."

Mr Borrows said he and the man had a "short, sharp discussion".

"It was a conversation that was somewhat truncated, with a number of monosyllabic words tossed in," he said.

He eventually found his cellphone a short distance away behind a building and then took the man to the Patea police station.


"There was no one at the station so I rang the Hawera station. But when I didn't raise anyone there I rang 111. I explained it wasn't an emergency but that I was making a citizen's arrest," he said.

The man will appear in court next week.

As for Mr Borrows, you could say it was a case of him limbering up for his role next month when he will be Acting Police Minister, covering for the minister Ann Tolley who is overseas for a couple of weeks.