Work, work, work…the Subaru WRX
One morning I did all my morning routines (“creature of habit”, Dianne used to call me), and wandered out to the car to go to work. I worked in car sales at the time and had been driving a Subaru WRX Imprezza wagon, a hot little manual in red with grouse alloys. However, I started second-guessing myself that I must have again been on the plonk the night before and got a cab home. But after digesting this scenario a few times over, I realised, and refused to accept, that I had in fact been home early, cooked dinner and went to bed. SO where the fuck was my car?
It’s funny what you do and how you think when something like this happens – you start thinking up all types of things and looking in random places wondering where you left things and it actually takes a long time before you grudgingly accept that yes, your car has in fact been nicked!
I called the Police and reported it stolen, and then got a cab to work and explained it to the boss. He wasn’t happy, and then started coming up with all sorts of scenarios himself about what I had done to it, and why would I not lock it up in a nuclear fallout type bunker?! And so it passed…cars stolen in Auckland don’t turn up every day.
About a week later I was at work and took a call, something like this;
Mystery Man – “I believe you might be looking for a red Subaru?”
Me – “Uh….yep.”
Mystery Man – “I can help you get it back. I need you to get me a grand in cash, and I will come and pick you, and only you, up from your yard. No cops.”
Me – “Uh…yep.”
Hanging up the phone, I looked at the boss and he must have thought I was on drugs when I asked him if he would go get me $1000 now to get his car back. He duly did, while I called the cops. I’m guessing they may have had this happen before as they were bloody good on the phone, and then the two Detectives who came down to see me, first asking me if I was OK with going with the ‘mystery man’ which I didn’t have to, but ensuring that there would be more cops following me than a Royal procession. They also pointed out the Eagle chopper overhead, but no so overhead to draw attention to itself. I explained this was New Lynn/Avondale, the damned helicopter was overhead here every bloody day, and night!
So came the hour when a beat up old van pulled up the yard drive. A guy came up to me, so nondescript I can barely recall how he looked now, and after we chatted niceties (I seem to mention something about it being a beaut day) I handed him an envelope with the cash and he asked if we should go…he had good manners…and I said of course, but only if I drove.
As we drove from the yard (heading back towards my house in Avondale no less) he explained that we would pass a car with two guys and when they saw us both they would ring ahead to another guy who would leave the car in a pre-determined place. This happened about a kilometre from my yard when I saw him nod out his window at a car pulling out of a side street. I have to say, I was almost tempted to u-turn and ram the bloody bastards, I was so pissed off about the nonchalant way they acted while I stressed over the stolen vehicle, but then, who knows what these guys are capable of. I just hoped the cops were still watching me from the helicopter!
We pulled into the car park of the Cobb & Co in Avondale (where I had eaten, and across the road from my Suburbs Rugby Club) and there she was, resplendent in red – the WRX. I got out and went up to the car and noted that all seemed OK bar the missing door lock and the steering and ignition barrel. Just then, all hell broke loose!
No fewer than six cop cars and two dog wagons screeched into the car park from both entrances and had us surrounded. It was impressive, just like the movies. Half expecting the Mystery Man to pull a gun and force a shoot-out I stayed close to the car for some cover. But he just stuck his hands in the air and allowed the cops to cuff him and bundle him into a car. A few of them chatted to me about what it was like and all that sort of stuff; of course, I was coy about the whole thing, the life I had experienced up to then, it just seemed another day of sorts.
Later that afternoon a Detective called me and explained that the guy I had driven with, and they had arrested, was in fact an undercover cop working on a sting to crack a large-scale auto theft ring in New Zealand. The guys this guy had come across with my car were part of it, but only a small, small cog in the scheme of things. I thanked them for their time and really, that was that.
Looking back, I suspected a little more than that, and as it discusses Russian influences, probably not my place to say right now.
This is a true story, it really happened to me, cross my heart and all that stuff. I know it sounds like something out of Hill Street Blues or Starsky & Hutch, but it happened, pretty much as written. It was actually the catalyst to my idea for a fiction book, which I have written the first chapter to…now, just need a publisher.