LAST MONTH reader Eric Waples responded to Morley’s ruminations about car alarms by describing the theft of his Pulsar ET years ago, taken despite a hidden starter-circuit switch and club-style steering-wheel lock – the thieves hot-wired the starter and hacksawed through the steering-wheel rim to dump the lock.

While there has been the odd attempt to nick my vehicles over time, only one has succeeded – about five years ago my old (mid-80s) diesel Hilux was grabbed. Amazed that anyone else was actually interested in my humble little truck, I guessed they wanted the motor to power a fishing-boat or gen-set or whatever; the local gendarme disagreed, saying it was probably taken because cars of that age are dead easy to pinch when someone just wants a car to get home

He was right.

I got the call at 2.00am a day later saying it had been dumped at an outer-suburban shopping centre where, according to the policewoman on the spot, the thief had unsuccessfully tried to burn it.

When I got there around 6.00am it was obvious I had a bunch of stuff to sort out. You could see the tank had been drained from the puddle of diesel under the ute (and some scraps of half-burnt paper)and a wider stain across the bitumen (if they wanted a big blaze they should have pinched a petrol-motor ute). And the battery was flat – the lights and butchered ignition switch were still turned on. I flicked off the lights and with effort switched the ignition off using my key.

With the tank drain plug refitted (it was lying behind a back wheel) and a jerrycan full of diesel in the tank I discovered that the fuel filter and lines were bone dry – abandoned with the engine running, it had sucked every last skerrick of juice from the system. So getting the old toy running again was going to be tough. Knowing that the mechanic at the garage where I got the fuel was flying solo that day and couldn’t leave the place to give me a hand, I started doing the only thing I could – using the tiny manual priming pump on the fuel filter to try to suck fuel through.After half an hour of wearying pumping with still no sign of fuel, I knew it was going to be a long day…

And then the cavalry arrived: “Saw you with your bonnet up. Looks like you need a hand, mate.”

My new best friend opened the canopy side-door on his LandCruiser to reveal the compressor, the tools, the spares, the lot... He was a mobile diesel mechanic doing a bit of shopping on his way to a nearby roadworks site to service a traxcavator.

He got me to push his air hose into the filler neck of the ute’s tank and seal around it with rags while he worked under the bonnet disconnecting the fuel lines. One burst of air pressure had fuel flowing up front in no time and within minutes he had bled the filter and the injector pump. Then while I coaxed the ignition to switch on again he attached some seriously heavy-duty jumper leads. After a few seconds on the glowplugs the old girl spun over and fired up just like a bought one.

My hero insisted that I put my wallet back in my pocket, shook my hand, wished me all the best and was gone.

Since then, although the Hilux still gets parked in the street, its steering wheel rests securely on the hallstand inside the hacienda at night. One of the boys reckons I shouldn’t get too cocky though, saying a thief could still drive the Toy away, steering it with a pair of Mole grips clamped to the steering column shaft…