Northland man delighted stolen dog returned, but gutted at losing his van and tools

Rodney Murray reunited with CatDog, who was inside the van when it was taken.

A Northland man has been reunited with his beloved dog after it was stolen with his van from Whangārei.

But his relief has been dampened because his van is now unusable and all his work tools needed for a new job have been stolen from the vehicle.

Rodney Murray was getting some water for his dog, named CatDog (after the American animated television of the late 1990s/early 2000s), at the visitor information centre at Tarewa Park about 3.30pm on Saturday. But when he returned his van had been stolen, with his beloved CatDog still inside, and he chased it down the road before having to watch it disappear into the distance.

Murray had only recently moved to Tāupo to take up a new job and was back in Northland to pick up some gear before returning south.


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The theft was reported to police and prompted a frantic social media search for the van and dog, with people from throughout Northland keeping an eye out for it, with a friend of Murray’s – Brittany – ensuring news of the theft was on as many online sites as possible.

One person saw the van heading north on Saturday and Brittany said the person who stole it set up a fake Facebook account to contact her to say he was sorry for the theft and that he’d left the van at Waiomio, about 47km north of where it was pinched.

She said people went straight to the spot where the thief had left it, but by that time it had been stolen again.

Rodney Murray has been reunited with his dog CatDog after his van, containing the animal, was stolen in Whangārei on Saturday.
Rodney Murray has been reunited with his dog CatDog after his van, containing the animal, was stolen in Whangārei on Saturday.

So, Brittany said, her post was updated with this latest information and on Monday the call came through that CatDog had been found by a boy at Maromaku – 42km north of Whangārei.


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‘’So around 2.40pm today the call came through that he had been found and about 30 minutes later Rod was reunited with CatDog,’’ she said.

Murray was delighted to get his beloved dog – “a very good family dog” – back and thanked the public for their help in finding the animal.

‘’He was so pleased to get his dog back and really grateful for the help in finding him,’’ she said.

But his relief was tempered by the fact all his tools and other equipment in the van had been stolen and the van itself was left unable to be driven.

‘’He’s gutted by that. He’d only done three days on his new job and then this happened. He’s contacted his boss and thankfully the job is still open to him, but his way to get back to his new job has been taken away from him,’’ she said.

‘’But at least he got his dog back, and he’s just so relieved and happy about that.’’

She has set up a Givealittle page, to help get Murray a replacement van and tools so he can get to work.

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