Those were the words of Swiss tourist Marianne Buttet, quoted in the Northern Advocate after her family’s camping van was stolen from a car park in Whangarei.
According to the report, written by Andre Heuber, when Mrs Buttet went to report the theft at the local police station another group of visitors came in and reported that their van had been stolen from the Pak N’ Save car park.
The paper went on to say that Mrs Buttet told them:
“”We asked the managers of the Town Basin where we could put our van safely and they suggested the carpark would be no problem as campers often slept there…”
…She admitted idolising New Zealand in the past, but said the theft had made her see things differently. “New Zealand is a wonderful country, but be careful as it’s not so safe. I suggest taking the battery out of the car or putting a steering wheel lock on.” She sympathised with the group of French tourists whose van was stolen from the Pak N’ Save carpark. “One student lost a year’s worth of work,” she said.”
Free camping is seen as a big no-no in New Zealand and is discouraged because of the litter and environmental pollution it generates (see “freedom campers should be shot” we cautioned about the dangers of declaring ‘open season’ on campers who were are already targets for robberies and assault) we’re very surprised to hear that the Town Basin managers allegedly advised them to park where they did.
But, as we all know, tourist vehicle thefts aren’t uncommon in the country so why aren’t visitors being told to be more careful with both their belongings and their vehicles? A number of times we have suggested that tourists be given access to free safety deposit boxes or lockers so as to make them less of a target for crooks, perhaps it would be a good idea to rent out vehicle locks with those facilities?
German tourists robbed in Northland said they wished they had been warned.
Turangi Campervan family robbed whilst free camping.
Frenchman attacked at a Northland Campsite.