TV couple turn crimebusters
The Block contestants Loren and Tom Heaphy have turned crimebusters, spotting and pursuing a stolen car, enabling police to catch the thieves.
The car was stolen from Heslops service and repair centre in Nelson but thanks to the sharp-eyed pair it was recovered within hours of it driving into Christchurch.
Heslops general manager Jan Aberhart said her husband Lloyd Heslop was called out at 2.30am on Saturday after the alarms went off at their Stoke repair yard. Heslop spent about an hour searching for intruders before leaving. CCTV cameras confirmed that the thieves came along an hour later, forcing open the doors to a storage shed.
Heslops' work vehicle was stolen in the burglary, along with "various stuff".
Some fuel tankers on the site had their tanks interfered with, and cameras showed the intruders searching for keys left in other vehicles on the site.
One client had decided to spend the night at the car yard in a bus the mechanics had fixed the previous day. Aberhart said the footage showed men trying to get into this vehicle, too.
"It was really scary," she said.
An employee called the couple at 7.30am to report the break-in. A second worker rang in barely 15 minutes later to say his father had been passed near Murchison by a speeding car that strongly resembled the stolen vehicle. The police were notified.
Meanwhile, the Heaphys were having a weekend away in Christchurch. Loren Heaphy is Aberhart's daughter, and was told about the theft early on Saturday.
Tom Heaphy said the pair spotted what looked like Heslop's car while driving from New Brighton across the Bridge St bridge.
"Because of the bright orange ‘Hazardous Goods' sign on the front of it, we identified it as most likely Lloyd Heslop's car."
He spun his car around to follow the stolen vehicle, while his wife called the police.
They soon lost the car in traffic, but knew it was headed in the direction of Brighton, which Heaphy described as "a bit of a dead end". A friend drove around near the suburb's exit to make sure the vehicle did not leave while the couple and police searched.
Within 20 minutes, the police called Heaphy back to confirm they had stopped three men with the stolen car.
"We're absolutely stoked," he said.
"We couldn't believe it was such a coincidence, we haven't been to Christchurch for months and then the first time we visit, this happens."
Aberhart said police told her that the car had blown a wheel, leaving the men stuck on the side of the road as they searched through the boot for a spare.
"Little did they know that the wheel is actually under the car."
She said the car seemed to have been driven hard and "not treated well", but the damage was not significant.
The Nelson Mail