Tourists want personal items back

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 13:00 01/01/2014
tourists
MARTIN DE RUYTER / Fairfax NZ
French tourists Sonia Chauvin and Jonathan Jean had personal items stolen from their locked car near Tahunuanui Beach.

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French tourists Sonia Chauvin and Jonathan Jean, whose possessions were stolen from their car in Nelson, are appealing for the return of treasured photos, a passport and documents.

The couple from Laval are five months into a year of travelling around New Zealand. After touring the North Island, they have spent the past six weeks in Nelson, including wwoofing for an appreciative couple, one of whom has a brain tumour.

Chauvin, 26, parked their Subaru station wagon in the car park by Tahunanui Beach at midday last Friday, read for a while, then locked the car and sat eating on the grass by a barbecue area 300 metres away.

After 15 minutes, she returned to find one of the car's doors had been opened with a screwdriver and a backpack taken.

The black Quechua brand backpack contained a Asus 1013B laptop, a new Sony A37 camera - bought in Nelson, after their first camera was dropped in the water at Coromandel - Jean's French passport and driver's licence, a headlamp, toiletries, work documents, and a portable hard drive containing thousands of photos.

The hard drive contained photos they had taken in New Zealand as well as the previous four years.

"That is five years of my life," said Jean, 27.

"We are very angry, and we don't understand why someone would take things that don't mean anything to them but do to us," said Chauvin.

They reported the theft to Nelson police but said they were disappointed that their car was not fingerprinted.

"I am angry they did not do the fingerprinting. Maybe they have more important work, I don't know," said Chauvin.

While the couple have insurance, they can't replace the photos.

"Sometimes we are happy, we say it's not very important, they are things, but we are still disappointed.

"It does not change our feeling about New Zealand, it's an amazing country and nice people, and I think everywhere you go in the world, people do these things.

"We loved Nelson before this, and we still like it, but we would like the camera, photos and passport back."

Jean now also has the added expense of a trip to the French embassy in Wellington to replace his passport.

Their faith in Nelson has also been restored by the generosity of Adrian Curtis of Tyres and More in St Vincent St, who repaired their car lock for free and gave them a new tyre.

"That is not possible in France," said Jean.

Still, they were unnerved by the theft. "Now we are afraid when we go in the shop. We go quickly back to the car," he said.

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The couple hope that anyone who finds their possessions will hand them in to the Nelson Mail office in Bridge St or find some other way to return them.

- Nelson

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