The 82-year-old Northlander who was brutally beaten by two youths who then stole his car says he will never again offer a lift to people he doesn't know.
Keith, who doesn't want his last name used, said he saw the pair thumbing a ride at a layby on State Highway 10, near Waipapa, on Friday afternoon. It was starting to rain so he stopped to offer them a lift.
The owner of a bed and breakfast in Kerikeri, Keith said he had given rides to many people, especially in summer when the roads were teeming with overseas backpackers.
The youths told him they wanted to go to Okaihau so he offered to drop them off on Wiroa Rd.
However, when he stopped to let them out in the driveway of A1 Rentals, opposite Kerikeri airport, the athletic-looking youth in the back seat started beating him across the face with a hard object.
He had his seatbelt on and couldn't escape at first; eventually he managed to free himself and was pushed out of the car.
He could recall hanging on to the door and calling for help, then ending up on the gravel where he was beaten some more.
''The one hitting me, he wasn't normal. He was hyped up. He looked evil.''
When he regained consciousness a passer-by was asking him if he was okay. He was taken to Bay of Islands Hospital in Kawakawa and discharged that evening. He still has pain where he was struck repeatedly on the face.
As well as the shock of the attack he had to deal with the hassle of replacing his bank cards and driver's licence. He lost his hearing aid and his watch has been smashed.
''One thing I've learned, you don't pick up people thumbing a lift if you don't know them. I wouldn't want anyone to go through what I've just gone through.''
He had also started locking his house at night and locking his car when he left it for a short time, things he never used to do.
''The world has changed so much,'' he said.
However, everyone he had dealt with since the attack — police, St John, hospital staff, Victim Support — had been extremely kind.
What had moved him most, to the point of tears, was a hamper someone had dropped off at the police station. It was filled with treats, a bottle of wine, reading material, and a pile of cards made by children.
One of the cards read: ''I'm sorry I don't know you name, but I think you are kind and the people who took your car are very mean. I want you to know that I care about you and I'm sad that this happened. I love you.''
The gesture had restored his faith in human nature, Keith said.
Meanwhile, police have arrested two youths, one of them after a dramatic car chase which started when a keen-eyed member of the public spotted the stolen Suzuki Swift on Lake Rd, Okaihau, about 9.30am yesterday.
Police descended on the area, closing roads and setting up road spikes. About 10am the car was spiked in Okaihau township, puncturing its right rear tyre.
The driver fled north on SH1, reaching speeds of up to 130km/h and somehow managing to keep the car on the road for 30km as the punctured tyre disintegrated.
He scattered cones as he sped through roadworks at Umawera before finally losing control north of Mangamuka township, just past an urupā where a crowd was gathering for a service.
The Swift spun out and ended up in a roadside ditch. The driver tried to get back onto the road but was boxed in by police Sergeant Mark Barratt.
He was uninjured but pinned inside the car by a bank on one side and a police car on the other.
Two police dogs arrived from Mangonui minutes later in case he tried to flee on foot. He was taken to Kaikohe police station for questioning.
Blue Hill, 17, and Claudia Chapman-Kete, 19, was working at Mangamuka Dairy when the red Swift came hurtling past about 10.15am, leaving a trail of smoke as the rim bit into the road. It was followed by six police cars.
Chapman-Kete said the car was making a noise ''like a helicopter''.
Hill said the driver looked young, about 16, and appeared strangely calm.
''He wasn't freaking out. He was just acting like it was normal,'' she said.
''He was down to the rim. It was crazy.''
Senior Sergeant Peter Robinson, of Mid North police, said the 15-year-old had been charged with receiving stolen property and a range of driving offences.
He was due to appear in the Kaikohe Youth Court later this week. Police were still working to establish whether he was involved in Friday's robbery.
A 17-year-old was picked up separately as a result of what described as ''good police work''. He is due in Kaikohe District Court today charged with aggravated robbery.
Police are still seeking another person in connection to the robbery and expect more charges to be laid.
Detective Senior Sergeant Rhys Johnston said he wanted to thank the community for information which led to the arrests.
"We know that the public would have been saddened to hear how a vulnerable, elderly member of our community was preyed upon and we are pleased to have located one of
the alleged offenders involved in this nasty incident.
"While we are limited in what we can say now there is an arrest, police are confident that there will be further charges as a result of this investigation."