Kereama Bedggood-Noa has learnt a hard lesson - never leave your car keys in the ignition or risk losing the vehicle to opportunists.
That's what happened when the Whangarei builder came out of Mobil pay counter in Kamo to discover his car, a 2005 purple Honda Fit registration JLJ731, missing about 1.45pm on Saturday.
The father-of-two had left the keys in the ignition and his cellphone in the car and was out for between three and four minutes.
His car was insured.
"I turned the car off with the keys in the ignition, not thinking anyone would steal it in broad daylight. The car was only 20 metres from the gas station. Luckily I took my wallet to pay for the gas before nipping across to the toilet.
"Didn't give the keys a second thought. When I came out, I was going crazy. I thought I had parked it somewhere else. I asked a lady at the forecourt whether she saw anyone taking my car but she didn't."
Bedggood-Noa said he went back inside and asked the attendant to call police before the service station manager turned up and showed him surveillance footage.
It showed a man who appeared to be in his 50s driving away the Honda Fit.
Bedggood-Noa's cellphone GPS showed the vehicle turned left on to Kamo Rd then on to Station Rd and last polled at Ruatangata.
Family and friends have lent him a car while police investigations are continuing into the brazen theft.
Bedggood-Noa said he would never leave keys in the ignition again.
Stephanie Shand was filling up a petrol can from the same pump on the other side but didn't notice Bedggood-Noa's car being driven away.
"In my peripheral, I saw the car pull over and back in. It was quite literally two to three minutes later when someone approached me and said 'Oh my god, did you see someone steal my car'.
"The poor guy looked pretty mortified. It was very brazen. Obviously someone was just sitting there watching and saw the driver walk out without the keys and hopped into the car and drove away," she said.
Anyone with information about the stolen car should contact Whangārei police on 09 430 4500 or call Bedggood-Noa on 021 047 4638.