When Mainfreight owner-operator Stu Bennett returned from a swift toilet break to find his massive truck missing, he thought his mates had pranked him.
But security camera footage showed in the minute or so he was away a teenager had whipped into the security area at the Mainfreight depot in Otahuhu, and whipped off with his $300,000 pride and joy.
And so started a joyride of more than 150km, in which the young driver even found time to pick up two German female hitchhikers at a service station.
"He's obviously a gentleman and a scholar," Mainfreight managing director Don Braid told Fairfax Media.
Mainfreight team members and drivers were swiftly alerted by broadcast to watch out for the blue and white Scania 620, number plate STUEEZ, Braid said.
A Mainfreight team member on the way back from Whangarei saw the missing unit headed north, Braid said.
Drivers from Linfox also helped track the stolen truck down, with Facebook entries saying they had followed the runaway through Northland.
"They're a competitor and sometimes a customer, that would show the goodwill that exists in the industry," Braid said.
STUEEZ was recovered unharmed yesterday afternoon, and did its usual run last night.
The truck has a powerful V8 engine which generates 620 horsepower. It is capable of hauling two trailer units. It sells for $305,000 new.
In the wrong hands, it could be dangerous, Auckland Scania dealer Damon Smith said.
"Not so much because of the power, it's just the size. They're wider and higher than a car, and the truck alone weighs about nine tonnes."
Braid could not recall a similar incident in decades in the industry.
Whangarei Constable Peter Thomas said a 16-year-old boy has been charged with burglary and unlawfully taking a motor vehicle.
He appeared in court this morning, and is due to appear again in the Whangarei Youth Court on April 10.
He is facing other charges, including other charges for stealing trucks, Thomas said.