A brazen thief stole a family's vehicle from the Nelson Hospital car park within three minutes of its owner parking it.
Carmen Gregory said she parked and locked the family's 1992 Nissan Safari four-wheel drive in the hospital car park to attend a follow-up dental appointment at the hospital on Friday.
When she returned 15 minutes later the car was gone. The hospital's security cameras showed a man driving the vehicle away at 11.29am, three minutes after she had parked it.
Carmen Gregory said she initially thought she had parked the car somewhere else, but when the realisation that it had been stolen set in, she burst into tears at the front desk.
To compound the loss, she had left her bag, containing her purse and cellphone, in the vehicle because she was only going to be away for a short time.
Car seats for two of the couple's four children had also gone, as well as other personal gear inside.
The Gregorys were left to deal with police, insurance, cancelling credit cards, and shopping around for a new vehicle.
Husband Stephen Gregory said the theft was disruptive, particularly for the children who had lost some favourite personal gear.
"It was clearly a family vehicle and you just think, man what a lowlife," he said.
He initially hoped the car was taken by a joyrider, but the swiftness of the theft made him suspect it was stolen to order. He said the 1992 Safari model was sought-after because of its durability.
The high-top vehicle, registration number WJ3830, had black insulation tape on the side mirrors.
Sergeant Matthew Elliott said police did not believe the Nelson Hospital area was specifically targeted.
Elliott said it was probably an opportunist theft, but said people should ensure valuables were out of sight when left in cars, as that "would minimise your car becoming a target".
Police inquiries were continuing.
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