Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

SocietyJune 17, 2024

My car got stolen and Auckland Transport tried to take me to court for it

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

Finn Barry was relieved when he learned his stolen car had been found abandoned on an Auckland side street. He had no way of knowing his troubles were only beginning.

That day last November started like any other. My regular commute involves hopping into Nancy, my 2004 Nissan Tiida, and hitting the traffic for my drive into work. The only issue on this occasion was that there was no Nancy. She had been stolen.

I contacted the police and reported the car stolen, explaining that one of its most recognisable features was a bumper sticker with the words “honk if you love manatees”. I almost chuckled at the thought of the thief driving around Auckland getting tooted at in response.

A few hours later, I received a call from the police saying they had found the car abandoned on Minnehaha Road, Takapuna. Relieved and happy, I raced there to pick it up. Nancy was there, but she now had something extra attached to her windshield: an Auckland Transport infringement notice for being parked on yellow lines.

My car as it was found on Minnehaha Road, Takapuna.

Parking wardens get a pretty bad rap so let’s put ourselves in this particular warden’s shoes for a moment. You’re walking down the road and you see an obvious parking violation: a car flagrantly parked on a yellow line. So far, so good. But then you look more closely. You see that all the windows are down, the contents of the car are strewn across the road, one of the side windows is smashed, dents and scrapes cover the car and the ignition has clearly been tampered with.

Suspicious? Hell no! Fine that car!

Yes, that’s right: the parking warden saw my obviously stolen car and instead of reporting it to the police, slapped it with a parking violation. How could someone in good conscience give my Nancy a ticket and not report it to the police?

I just want to emphasise here that the damage to my car was clearly obvious. In fact, Nancy was so severely injured that later she was completely written off by my insurance company.

The police at the scene

Back to Takapuna. The police officers who were on the scene took photographs of the car with a parking ticket, laughingly telling me they had never seen something like this before and assuring me it would be taken care of.


The police did not take care of it, and the matter was left in the hands of Auckland Transport.

A month or so later I was amazed to find a parking infringement payment reminder in the mail. I rang the number on the reminder, explained my case to Auckland Transport and provided them with the police file number. Case closed, surely?


A few weeks later, another letter arrived in the mail. This time the sender was Baycorp, the debt resolution company that works alongside AT.

The Baycorp letter explained that because my fine hadn’t been paid, the matter had been escalated and I needed to pay them the fine to settle it. If I failed to do so my case would be escalated further.

Photos submitted to Baycorp showing extensive damage to the car, including a smashed window and broken ignition, plus the parking ticket under the windscreen wiper.

So there I was, having to go over the whole thing again. I explained my case and emailed through photographic evidence of my car (the same photos that are included in this article), along with the police file. To my relief, the individual at Baycorp assured me all was fine and the case would be taken care of.

Wrong again.

About three weeks after this assurance I was greeted with a letter from the Ministry of Justice, saying my case was now with the court.

Upon ringing the Ministry of Justice and yet again explaining my case, I was told I had to fill out an application to dispute a fine filed in court. This I promptly did.

The most recent update I have received was that my application was successful, and my court fine (an extra $30 on top of the $60 fine from Auckland Transport) has been removed. But the letter also states that the matter is now back with Auckland Transport!

According to the letter, I have been left with two options: either pay the fine or request a hearing to dispute the infringement. It seems as if AT has more power to compel someone to pay a fine than even the Ministry of Justice. How on Earth can they not waive the whole thing? If the evidence I provided was enough to overturn a court fine, why would it not be enough to overturn AT’s original fine?

I’m left wondering, was this whole thing simply human error or is it a case of bureaucracy gone mad?

Keep going!