'I'm no vigilante' says Dunedin man who got alleged thief to return - and refit - stolen tyres
Never mess with a man and his Toyota Hilux.
It was late last Wednesday when Mike Wells heard a suspicious vehicle pull up outside his Dunedin home.
"I saw him make a getaway, but at that point I walked around my truck and nothing has been stolen, but the wheel nuts have been dropped off my wheels."
He took to social media to track down the owner of the vehicle – "a disgusting looking little ute" – and found the alleged offender after 10 minutes.
Wells messaged the man over Facebook asking "what were you doing outside my house".
The next morning, the wheels were stolen.
Wells messaged the man again saying he should return them.
After not hearing back, he made a statement to police and went to work.
"When I left he texted me and said the wheels had turned up at his house."
Later that day Wells received another text saying the wheels had been dropped off and were on the back of his Toyota Hilux.
"That's when I rang him and said 'no mate, you took them off, you put them back on'."
Wells said he was surprised when the man turned up to put the wheels back on.
The man admitted on camera to stealing the wheels from the Hilux.
Wells said the video evidence was crucial as the alleged offender could have denied stealing the wheels.
"The only way to actually get a conviction is a confession."
Wells said some people took issue with him verbally abusing the alleged offender, but he maintained he was no vigilante.
"If I had turned around and whacked him, he becomes a victim and I get done. This was me securing my proof."
"He has turned up on his own free will."
In the video Wells uses profanities and calls the man an "oxygen thief".
"That was just the anger showing through . . . he cost over $1000 worth of damage," Wells said of the insured vehicle.
Police turned up just as the man put the last wheel on.
The one minute, 20 second clip was uploaded to YouTube last week. It received thousands of views and garnered interest from the Daily Mail Australia.
Wells said he licensed the video after he was approached by a New Zealand media outlet who wanted to run the video without his side of the story.
Ethan James Harbrow appeared in court on Thursday. He was due to appear again on August 22.
Watch the video (language warning) here.