A MAN took a Mercedes from the driveway of a Christchurch home – only to return it, posting the keys through the letter box, several hours later.

Robert Labuda took the Mercedes E220, which belongs to Karen Piagesti, late at night on Thursday, September 26.

Mrs Piagesti, who lives with her husband and children, believes Labuda then returned to the home at least twice before eventually parking the car and returning the keys.

She said the family realised the car was gone when she got up to take her son to rugby at 6am the following day.

As police were called, one of the children saw the keys being dropped through the letterbox.

“I was so angry,” said Mrs Piagesti.

“I pulled the door open and charged outside, but he was gone.”

However, a woman parking her car had seen Labuda posting the keys, and gave a description to police.

Labuda was quickly arrested.

Both Mrs Piagesti and her eldest daughter Amber, now 18, say they heard “heavy footsteps” on the night the car was taken. 

Mrs Piagesti said the keys were on a table indoors next to her handbag. 

Amber, who sleeps in a downstairs room, also realised the car wasn’t there, but believed her father had taken it.

When she checked later that night, the car was parked in the driveway again, but in the morning it was gone, leading the family to believe Labuda made at least one return to the address.

“He kept coming and going. We think that happened a couple of times,” Mrs Piagesti said.

“I was worried the car had been used for criminal activity, but police said they didn’t need to do a forensic search.

“We still have no idea why he took it or what he did with it when he had it.”

The Mercedes was returned undamaged.

When Labuda parked it, one wing mirror had been folded in, away from passing traffic, and the parking lights were on.

Labuda, who is 28 and lives in Brownen Road in Bournemouth, appeared at Poole Magistrates’ Court last week to admit taking a vehicle without consent, driving it while disqualified, and driving without appropriate insurance.

He was sentenced to a community order with a six-month electronically-monitored curfew and a 42-day programme requirement.

He was also ordered to pay a victims’ surcharge and costs to the prosecution.