A courageous 11-year-old girl wielding her father's crutch chased a fleeing burglar 500 metres to get her precious Xbox and iPod back.
Peter Sciascia, who is on crutches after breaking his leg, returned home with his three children and one of their friends on Tuesday afternoon and saw someone running out the back of his Otaki house.
"He just bolted," Mr Sciascia said. "I hobbled around to see where he had gone. The kids went inside to see if anything was missing and I sent Rena out to the road to see if she could see him."
Discovering the burglar had made off with the family's Xbox, games, iPod and some cash, Rena Sciascia, 11, gave chase.
"She just grabbed the crutch and started chasing him," Mr Sciascia said.
The theft of the Xbox and iPod spurred her on, she said.
"I was scared but I wanted my Xbox and iPod back. I saw him trying to put on a hoodie but as soon as he saw me he sprinted off."
She lost him after a 500-metre chase.
Her father and his daughter Rakapa, 9, son Tumanako, 7, and Rena's friend, Keakea Rikihana, 11, hopped in the car and chased Rena up the road.
They spotted the burglar ducking into the Brown Sugar Cafe and rang police.
Rena checked the cafe but the burglar had fled.
Meanwhile, a police officer spotted someone running across the road toward the Otaki River and, after picking up the three girls, headed to the river to hunt for him.
Police were searching the riverbank when the burglar made a dash across the river and hid in bushes.
Police flushed him back into the river where he was captured by an officer who plunged into the water.
The family's stolen property, except their iPod, was found stashed in bushes near their home.
"He didn't get that far," Rena said. "I'm really relieved we got our Xbox back. Chasing him and keeping going was worth it."
Her father said Rena had helped police find the burglar. "I was really proud of her grabbing my stick and chasing him. It was awesome."
The three siblings' mother, Katrina Smith, who works for the police, was proud of her "budding little police officer".
"[Rena] does not tolerate any injustice. I am extremely proud of her but have told her about the potential danger."
Sergeant Noel Bigwood praised the girl's courage but issued a word of warning.
"The girl's actions were brave but I would not recommend them. She is neither big nor strong – if the burglar had turned on her she might have been injured. I like live witnesses, not dead heroes."
A 15-year-old Otaki youth will appear in Levin Youth Court tomorrow charged with burglary.
- The Dominion Post