A passer-by who stopped to fight a house fire watched in disbelief as a cheeky thief stole his car.
Shane Holden, 47, was going to work at 10.30pm last Wednesday when he saw smoke billowing from a house in Leaver Tce, North Beach.
Thinking there could be people in the house he left his 1992 Subaru Legacy RS parked with the engine running and ran to see if help was needed.
"I was calling the fire brigade on my cell and jumped out of my car, left it running and sprinted to the house to see if anyone was in it," he said.
The house was fully ablaze and there was no chance of investigating further. Luckily the house had been abandoned after the February 2011 earthquake. It is believed the fire was deliberately lit.
But a neighbour was trying to stop the flames getting to his property with a garden hose, so Mr Holden sprung into action to help him while waiting for firefighters.
"The flames were about four metres away from his fence - it was really full on. Flames were touching his spouting," he said.
"I took over on the hose while he ran around the back of his house to find another hose, I was there for a good five to 10 minutes."
When the firefighters arrived Mr Holden told the neighbour that he had to get to work.
"I exited his property and my car was still there running."
"Then I suddenly heard it go off in first gear with some guy in it - I actually thought he was moving it for me. But then it was in third gear and out of there," said Mr Holden.
Mr Holden said he flagged down a passing four-wheel-drive with a man and his partner init.
"We couldn't see it but we could hear it. It went down Tedder Ave and then suddenly on Pacific Rd it went quiet like it was pulled into a garage or something," said Mr Holden.
"I just couldn't believe it. That's bottom of the pile stuff, that's scumbag material."
When Mr Holden returned to the fire to get a description of the thief for the police, a woman bystander said a car full of people had stopped at the scene to ask if everything was okay.
"She described the same person who took my car, Maori, blue LA cap, mid-20s with a bit of a mo," said Mr Holden.