Mike Morton was outside his house trying to spot a meteor in Friday night’s meteor shower, but instead he spotted the alleged break-in under way.
It was one of a spate of recent vehicle break-ins and thefts in and around Prebbleton. Police had made no arrests as of Monday afternoon.
A police spokesperson said one car was stolen from Prebbleton overnight on Friday, and at least another three vehicles were broken into.
“Inquiries are ongoing to determine the circumstances,” the spokesperson said.
The Prebbleton Facebook community page shows about 10 vehicles were damaged, mostly in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Posts also suggest up to four youths may have been responsible.
Morton said he heard voices while standing at the side of his house on Central Ave about midnight.
He walked to the front and shouted “oi” when he saw the offenders.
He ran as fast as he could after them for about 100m along Central Ave into Pointsman Pl to the vicinity of the Prebbleton skate park.
“It was just one of those spur of the moment things to see if I could catch them,” Morton said.
He went back to his car, which was parked on the street outside his home.
In the middle of the road, where the chase had begun, he saw a Samsung smartphone and pair of sunglasses.
It appeared they had been dropped by the offenders. The phone appeared to be uncharged with a recently smashed screen. He handed the items to police and hoped they can be used to identify the owner.
Items Morton uses in his job as a building inspector competency assessor, including steel-capped boots and health and safety equipment, such as first aid kits, remained unstolen in the car.
“My guess is they had only just opened the door when I saw them,” he said.
Morton said it appeared the pair had gained access to the car by smashing the rear triangle window, which was broken.
Morton drove around Prebbleton to try and locate the pair, but was unsuccessful.
He said he was not sure what he would have done if he had of caught them, although he thought maybe he could have sat on one of them and phoned the police.
He and his wife reported the incident to police shortly after when he returned home.
He estimated the pair were aged 15 to 18 and were of slim to medium build. The one he got closest to was about 173cm, wearing a grey top and black shorts.
Morton is no stranger to keeping an eye out for criminals, having been a volunteer for the City to Sumner Community Watch Patrol when he lived in Christchurch.
During the 10 years that he belonged to the group, he said he had never before come across someone in the act of breaking into a vehicle.
He said it was sad to see young criminals, probably from outside the area, coming into Prebbleton and rampaging through the town as they had done on Friday.
Prebbleton was a lovely community, which was one of the reasons he and his family had moved there in the first place, he said.
“It’s horrible. At the moment we are a reasonably small township,” Morton said.