Ambulance volunteer's car stolen

CARLESS: Volunteer ambulance officer Marc Veldhuisen of Waimauku is left carless after the theft.
CARLESS: Volunteer ambulance officer Marc Veldhuisen of Waimauku is left carless after the theft.

An ambulance officer awarded volunteer of the year has been dealt a crushing blow.

Marc Veldhuisen's car was stolen while he was helping at a Lifewise charity event for the homeless.

The Waimauku volunteer of 15 years returned from a graveyard shift to find his 4WD had vanished from outside the Te Atatu ambulance station in Edmonton Rd.

Mr Veldhuisen found himself in an unusual reversal of roles - having to dial 111 to report the theft.

"My first comment was ‘I go out to serve the community and this is how they thank me'," he says.

"Everyone expects the ambulance service to be there to help them so why would you steal from them? What if they had stolen the car and crashed it down the road and the ambulance turns up?"

His Nissan Safari Grand Road was taken from a well-lit area on a main road.

Mr Veldhuisen had been giving medical help overnight at AUT University in Wellesley St where students slept rough to raise funds for the homeless.

The St John event volunteer is unemployed and comes from a humble dwelling.

"I live in a shed with a couple of rooms. It's leaky and drafty but it's cheap."

It is the second time someone has targeted his car - outside the same station in 2009 by smashing a window. Auckland ambulance stations have suffered a spate of similar break-ins.

"Most new stations have lockable gates for cars to park behind. Isn't it sad that you need to do that?"

The 38-year-old, who also led the Riverhead Scouts for five years, is moved by the gratitude of former patients who visit the ambulance station.

"Little old nana randomly turns up with a jar of jam and says, ‘you helped me when I went to hospital'. The jam's not worth much but the gesture is a lot."

Mr Veldhuisen helped victims of the first Christchurch earthquake and stayed with colleagues at a Girl Guide camp.

"Somehow people found out where we were and they just turned up with muffins.

"That was cool just to know people appreciated what we were doing."

Western Leader