Tourists track down thieves, but police can do nothing

A British couple who saved for a year to visit New Zealand have had their dream holiday ruined after being robbed in an upmarket Auckland suburb.

They were able to track down the culprits with an app, but police told them nothing could be done.

Cliff Road in St Heliers is a popular spot to take tourists and show off the stunning view of Rangitoto Island.

But just 30 minutes after Robin and Dot Graham had arrived in the country, they were robbed. They'd parked across the road, just metres from the lookout.

"We wouldn't usually leave bags and valuables in a car, we just wouldn't do that, but it was literally over the road," says Ms Graham.

The few minutes they were away was enough time for thieves to ransack the car.

"We were looking out over the thing, it would only have been five minutes, and when we got back both rucksacks and two handbags had disappeared," says Mr Graham.

The couple lost their passports, cameras, iPads and iPhones as well as $5000 in cash.

Ms Graham says she initially felt "shocked".

"And then sick, because we knew all our lives were in there."

She immediately logged into her Find My Device app on her computer to track the thieves who had stolen her phone. 

The app tracked them traveling to Southmall, before they went to a nearby residential address in Manurewa. 

But when the Grahams handed this information over to the police, they were told it wasn't accurate enough to follow up.

"We knew within 30 minutes where it had ended up," Mr Graham says. 

"If these guys had been searching through the bags and the police cars rolled up, it might have fluttered a few feathers."

In a statement, police said that under the Search and Surveillance Act, officers do not have the authority to enter a premise based off a locator app on a missing phone. 

If the technology can pinpoint a specific address, police are able to knock on the door and make enquiries, but not enter. 

Police say everyone should follow basic theft prevention advice - always lock your cars and don't leave valuables in sight. 

The Grahams want to warn all tourists to be aware that they can be a target.