Foreign thieves rip off backpackers

A pair of foreign travellers have ripped off a local backpackers after failing to return surfing equipment that was rented to them.

Mount Backpackers owner Jo Veale says she rented the gear to the young Europeans on Thursday afternoon.

“We're much more careful usually. Our guests are okay because we keep all of their details. But these guys just walked in off the street.”

For $70 ‘Sebastian' and ‘Florian' rented two surfboards and wetsuits with a total retail value of $1800.

“They must have been watching a little bit, because they waited until the office was full of people and we were really busy. Normally we take passports or some kind of ID. They gave me their car keys [as collateral], and pointed to a Mitsubishi outside that was theirs. But the car disappeared later that afternoon, and I didn't realise anything was wrong until 8pm when it was dark,” says Jo.

“They initially wanted an advance-level surfboard, but one of the girls they were talking to said no, because they hadn't surfed before. But it makes me think they wanted to sell the boards.”

She says everyone she's spoken to has told her Sebastian and Florian are common French names; but one German man who was in the office at the time told her the pair were definitely German, not French.

Taking to social media, Jo is trying her best to track the boys down and get her gear back.

“I've contacted all the backpackers and hostels in Auckland and in the surf centres such as Gisborne, Taranaki, New Plymouth, and they've all replied back saying they'll keep an eye out.”

They were last seen around the Raglan area. Most perplexing, though, are the car keys she was left with, which may have been a spare set from a rental.

“The keys had Mitsubishi on the keyring, and I even made a joke that it would be a pretty cheap exchange – a Mitsubishi for two boards,” she says.

“But they got away with both.”

If you recognise either Sebastian or Florian, or have seen them about, get in touch with Jo via the Mount Backpackers Facebook page, or phone the police.