Mystery has shrouded the whereabouts of the British aristocrat since he vanished after the 1974 murder of his children's nanny, and some believe he drowned himself in the English Channel.
Claims that Lucan, who would now be 72, is living rough outside of the small town of Marton proved irresistible for former detective inspector Sidney Ball, who retired to New Zealand.
"This man's neighbours are convinced that the guy living rough in an old Land Rover with a cat and a pet possum is Lucan," Ball was quoted as saying by Wellington's The Dominion Post newspaper.
"I can't say more until I've completed my investigation," he said.
A television production company is accompanying Ball to Marton, which has a population of only 6,000.
Local mayor Bob Buchanan said it would not surprise him if the man turned out to be Lucan.
"There's quite a resemblance. And although he lives only about 10 minutes out of Marton, his mail goes to a PO box in Palmerston North [40 kilometres away]."
Neighbours say he has an upper-class English accent and a military bearing like Lucan, who was educated at Eton before serving in the Coldstream Guards.
He is said to have arrived in New Zealand about the time Lucan disappeared and understood to be receiving money from property he owns in Britain.
The Lucan case sparked enormous worldwide interest after his children's nanny, Sandra
Rivett, was bludgeoned to death in London at the West End home of Lucan's estranged wife.
Some suspect Lady Lucan was the intended victim and that the nanny was killed by mistake.
In the more than 30 years since Lucan's disappearance, there have been dozens of supposed sightings of him in countries including Australia, the Netherlands, Ireland and South Africa.
Auckland-based television production company Greenstone Pictures tracked Ball down and asked him to investigate the claims that Lucan was living in Marton.
A researcher for the programme, Kim Trueman, declined to be drawn on whether it had yet been established if there was any truth to residents' claims.
"That's the bit that I'm not going to tell you, but it's not necessarily pie in the sky," she told
to shroud, v: to cover; to hide; to make difficult to see
whereabouts, n: place where somebody is
aristocrat, n: person with a title, eg: lord
to live rough, v: to live without many of the things people expect in their daily lives
irresistible, adj: making you unable to refuse or reject
to accompany, v: to go with; to join
resemblance, n: the fact that one looks like another
to spark, v: to start or create quickly and unexpectedly
estranged, adj: having stopped being friends or working together
pie in the sky, idiom: crazy idea that is not based on reason or logical thinking
1. Why is Scotland Yard looking for Lord Lucan?
a. His wife has died.
b. His children feel lonely without him.
c. He might have killed his children's nanny.
d. He has inherited a very large amount of money.
2. Where is Lord Lucan believed to live now?
b. South Africa
c. New Zealand
d. The Netherlands
3. Why was Sidney Ball asked to help?
a. He is a famous outback tracker.
b. He used to work for Scotland Yard.
c. He knows everybody living in this country.
d. He is a close personal friend of Lord Lucan
4. Who asked Sidney Ball to help?
a. Scotland Yard
b. Lord Lucan's wife
c. The Coldstream Guards
d. A television production company
5. What is unusual about the man living in the old Land Rover?
a. He receives money from property.
b. He speaks with an upper-class British accent.
c. He doesn't know how to speak the local language.
d. He believes he is Dr Dolittle and speaks to his possum.
Which of the following words or phrases replace the ones from the passage best?
Questions 1. c, 2. c, 3. b, 4. d, 5. b Synonyms 1. a, 2. c, 3. a, 4. c, 5. b
By Ajarn Horst Baelz