A Stoke family was both the victim and the detective in a mixture of terrible timing, social media and a spate of car break ins over the weekend.
Ricky and Zelia Boyd were one of the victims in a spate of car break ins in Stoke on Sunday night.
A police spokesperson says police have received reports of a number of car break ins during that time.
“Two vehicles were broken into on Titoki St and small items and change were taken.”
Less than two minutes away, on Polstead Rd, Ricky’s silver Nissan Cefiro was also broken into, with two pay-wave debit cards and a nixon watch stolen.
“I went to go to the gym early Monday morning and realised that the driver’s door of my car was slightly ajar,” says Ricky. “I thought that I must’ve left it open a little bit but then I noticed that the back door was open as well and the little quarter light was smashed in.
“I was just wondering what they’d taken and why they would break into my car, I didn’t think there was anything of value in there at the time.”
Ricky reported the incident to the police.
“The policeman that came to fingerprint my car said I was about the tenth person to get my car fingerprinted from over the weekend.”
To make matters worse, the break in started what was already a very stressful day for the family.
The couple’s triplets, who have all been diagnosed with Langerhans cell hystiocytosis, a form of cancer, were set to begin chemotherapy that day and Ricky says they were both on edge before the break in.
“On Monday night, two of them started their chemotherapy so all weekend we were stressed. It’s a big thing, we’re giving our kids these drugs not knowing how sick it’s going to make them so we were quite nervous and on edge and I was going to go to the gym that morning to de-stress and then I find my car is broken into and it just feels like, ‘well, do you want to kick me again while I’m down?’
“It’s been a really bad year for us and it just made a hard day a whole lot harder.”
However, a few phone calls and a bit of investigating later, the family’s day began to look up.
After checking his banking app, Ricky discovered that his pay-wave debit card had been used to top up a Vodafone cell phone and immediately called his bank to lock the cards.
“Later on my banking app sent me a notification saying that someone had tried to use my locked card so I rang up the bank and they told me it had been used at the Stoke Mobil.”
After contacting police and driving down to Stoke Mobil, Ricky talked to the attendant who remembered four men coming in with the declined card and was able to locate them on the station’s security cameras.
“I took some photos of the CCTV footage and put them up on Facebook and within 29 minutes we had four names, a few addresses, a phone number and a whole lot of stories of other people who had been ripped off, these guys were basically causing havoc all over town.
“I was amazed at how quick we were able to find them and I wasn’t sure why after only four hours of investigating and 29 minutes after putting the photos up and having them identified, the police were taking so long.”
The group handed themselves in to police on Tuesday after online pressure and police are currently following up with other people who have had run ins with the group.
“It’s hard times these days, everyone works hard for what they’ve got and everyone has a back story so the last thing you need is some teenagers who just come along and steal your stuff.”
Ricky urges everyone to be super vigilant, “be weary of who is hanging around and scoping out cars or houses as the four people who are on the footage were spotted checking out my place on Sunday before the break ins.”
Police also advise members of the public to ensure their vehicles are locked and parked in well-lit or secure areas with valuables removed, and report all suspicious activity by dialling 111.
If anyone else has had their vehicle broken into in the area or has witnessed any suspicious behaviour Police would like to hear from you.
Please contact Nelson Police on 03 546 3840 if you have information.