The owner, Anne Kristin Korsfur, promptly went looking for the man, finding him at the spot where he had broken down, and then kept him chatting until the police arrived.
"He was a nice guy, but it was good that the police arrived so quickly and arrested him," Korsfur told Norway's Nordlys newspaper. "I'll never yell at my partner when he doesn't get around to filling up the car again: sometimes you want to start the day with an empty tank."
The young man had been staying at the guest house Korsfur runs with her partner Johnny Henriksen, and had managed to snatch the car keys as he brought an empty teacup into their kitchen.
When she arrived at work the next morning, Korsfur spotted a missed call from the mobile phone the couple keep in the car, and, wondering who it could be, rang back.
The man picked up the phone and told her that the car had run out of petrol and that he wanted to know where they kept the card used for paying for fuel. Korsfur pretended he had dialled a wrong number, and then set out to track the man down.
"I guessed that he had driven south, partly because the night before he had asked Johnny how to get from Sørkjosen to Finnsnes, and quite right, I got no further than the turn that goes up Sørkjosfjellet when I saw our car standing by the roadside," Korsfur told the newspaper. "He was wearing a reflective vest, and had the warning triangle set out — he had done everything by the book."
Before approaching the man, she called her husband, who called the police. She then parked her car and offered to help the man, who had no idea who she was, having only met her partner the previous night.
After calling her son and asking him to bring a jerry can of petrol, Korsfur then chatted to the man for twenty minutes as the police made their way to the scene.
"The situation was so relaxed that I was not in the least bit afraid," she said. "I was about to crack up in laughter the whole time. I had to try really hard to keep a straight face."
It was only when two police officers arrived, that she asked the man to introduce himself to her. He claimed to be her partner, adopting the identity in the car's registration documents.
Then she told him: "I am the person who owns the car you are driving."
The man has been charged with theft and driving without a licence.