When Ray Gough's Dominion Post started disappearing from his mailbox, he suspected a local cat burglar.
But it turns out the culprit was a canine.
Max the cocker spaniel, who lives next door to Mr Gough in the Lower Hutt suburb of Pt Howard, had been sneaking over the fence every morning for the past week and swiping his paper.
Max's mini-crime spree came to an abrupt end on Thursday when Mr Gough decided to catch whoever was responsible.
The neighbourhood dogs routinely bark every time someone walks past Mr Gough's secluded home, so when they started up about 7am, he raced outside and hid in his car.
His plan was to tail whoever stole his paper, find out where they lived, and dob them in.
Then along came Max.
"I couldn't believe it. I just thought, this is too much," Mr Gough said. "But I was probably a bit relieved that it was a dog and not someone a lot bigger than myself."
Max made a break for it, but Mr Gough managed to catch the mischievous mutt, and after a brief tug-of-war, Max admitted defeat and dropped the paper.
The 9-year-old has been fetching the morning paper for his owner, Carmen Mitchell-Arquier, since he was a pup, and looks forward to the treat he gets as a reward.
So when her paper started disappearing a week ago, Max went a few metres further down the road and fetched Mr Gough's instead.
"I guess he was thinking outside the square," Mrs Mitchell-Arquier said. "He didn't mean any harm by it. All he was thinking about was getting his treat. That's all he cares about."
Mrs Mitchell-Arquier said Max did not need to be taught any new tricks when it comes to fetching the paper.
On mornings when she is not up and about to reward him with a chewable treat, Max will stash the paper in a nearby bush until he gets the chance to collect it.
Mr Gough said he and Max had talked it through and were getting along fine by the end of the day.
But the mystery of who has been stealing Max's newspaper remains.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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