Soldier chases car thieves in his underwear
Corporal Justin DeThier is used to standing up against injustice.
He's done it in the guise of a Gisborne policeman and in the camouflage of the New Zealand Army.
But last Sunday the Cloverpark resident went superhero style and flew out the window in only his undies to chase two car thieves.
Now he's asking neighbouring residents to join him in the fight against crime.
DeThier was in bed about 1.30am when he heard his partner's car, which was right outside their bedroom window, start.
"I opened the window and there the thieves were."
He said he was almost run over as he confronted them and had had to move quickly out of the way. He then ran back inside and grabbed his own car keys and began to pursue them.
He lost them when they ran a red light.
"They have darted right through and they were hitting top speed. I must admit I had my foot down as well.
"But as I came to the lights I still had to abide by the law. They were red and I didn't want any cars coming down and ploughing into me."
The thieves gave it no second thought, he said.
"They just went straight through the red light and bowled on through into Otara."
He called the police and they took over the chase and within 30 minutes the car was spotted abandoned in Patea Pl, Otara, by the Eagle helicopter.
Police have two suspects in their sights but DeThier is not confident they will get a conviction.
However, he still plans to fight back.
"My intentions aren't to seek out and find these people, although I would love that to happen. I've written up a long letter to my neighbours here and I would like to get an active neighbourhood watch going."
DeThier feels the theft wasn't a random event and he wants the community to be vigilant.
He would also like to meet the thieves and explain a few things to them.
"I'm actually prepared, if these guys are caught, to help them out. That's part of my job."
He is a member of the New Zealand Army's Youth Development Unit which caters for young offenders.
"I would just like them to know it is not just the fact that they stole the car.
"It is the ongoing effects, the trauma," DeThier said.
The couple has suffered on several fronts since the car was stolen: having to pay an insurance excess, the loss of the car for a week and the fact that DeThier's partner is now scared of being home alone.
Anyone wishing to start a Neighbourhood Support group can drop into their local police station or visit www.ns.org.nz.
- © Fairfax NZ News