An elderly Whanganui woman and her small dog had a happy reunion after the dog was stolen along with the owner's car.
About 10am on Monday, June 10, a group of youths stole a Suzuki Swift that was parked outside the Splash Centre where its owner was having her regular swim. The owner's bichon frise dog was inside the car.
Whanganui Police Constable Ryan Barrass said the car keys were stolen from the owner's bag inside the Splash Centre and the youths then drove off in the car.
"Luckily it was parked right out the front of the Splash Centre so they were caught on CCTV," Barrass said.
"They went for a joyride to Fordell and were doing skids and taking turns driving. The front right of the car was smashed up when they hit a fence. They were really young kids."
About seven police units set up cordons around Fordell where Barrass and Constable Ivan Madder found the car hidden behind a garage in Station Rd, with the owner's dog still inside.
With the help of the public and using a police dog, the four occupants of the vehicle were caught hiding in properties in Fordell.
Barrass said the owner was hugely relieved to get her dog back unharmed.
"She was pretty upset about the dog and didn't really care about the car," he said.
"The dog doesn't like being left at home so she took it with her when she went for her swim and left it in the car with the window down a bit like she always does.
"We didn't know whether they had put the dog out somewhere so she was pretty happy to get it back. When we found the car, the dog was sitting there in the front seat."
Acting response manager Sergeant Mike Craig said police wanted to thank the members of the public who helped them locate the youths and vehicle.
The youths have been referred to the police youth aid section.
Craig had a warning for vehicle owners in the central city and College Estate who leave their parked cars unlocked overnight.
"There have been a number of unlocked cars that have been entered and property stolen," Craig said.
"These offenders do not seem to be interested in forcing entry into locked cars."
Anyone with information is encouraged to phone the police.