The owner thought he'd never see it again.
A vintage gem, the 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air, was recently returned to its rightful owner after a brazen theft. Winston Matthews, the proud owner of this $80,000 classic Chevy, had almost lost hope of ever reuniting with his beloved vehicle. Yet, thanks to the quick response from Mangōnui Police Station, the car now stands pristine once again in its designated spot.
Matthews' car, a part of the Matthews Vintage Collection Museum in Taipa, was stolen on September 19. At the time, Matthews was away in Tauranga, and the distressing news of the theft was delivered to him by his nephew, who was overseeing the property.
Reflecting on the incident, a shaken Matthews said, “I envisioned the worst - either never seeing the car again or finding it in a dilapidated state.”
However, salvation arrived in the form of a tip from an observant citizen. Constable John Walters of Mangōnui Police Station shared that they received a complaint about suspicious driving behavior and unconventional "hand signals" from the driver of the vehicle on Inland Rd on the Karikari Peninsula.
Wasting no time, the swift trio from Mangōnui Station - Walters, Acting Sergeant Dean Rowlands, and Constable Dave Reynolds - located the car at a residence in Whatuwhiwhi. The subsequent arrest of a local man in connection to the burglary meant that the Chevy Bel Air was on its way back home.
Constable Tim Murdock meticulously fingerprinted the car before handing it over to Matthews. Elated by the turn of events, Matthews exclaimed, “As I was heading north, near the Bombay Hills, I received the uplifting news of the car’s recovery!”
Upon examining the Chevy, Matthews found just a minor scratch, which he believes might have predated the theft.
Expressing his gratitude, Matthews visited Mangōnui Police Station the very next day. “The police here deserve commendation. Often facing unwarranted criticism, they showcased their dedication and efficiency in this case,” Matthews concluded, grateful for the swift return of his cherished classic.
Source: The Northern Advocate