Thieves who hacked off the brass top of the historic Marine Parade sundial a fortnight ago also struck at a second equally historic sundial in the city during the same weekend.
In the wake of publicity about vandalism at the Sound Shell gardens, and theft of the brass "gnomon" from the garden's sundial, staff at Napier Central School realised there was a strong link to an incident at the school during the same weekend.
The sundial, which has stood at the front of the hilltop school by its main steps for 84 years was pulled over and the brass pointer top stolen.
Assistant principal Jane Taylor said the damage and theft had left staff, the children and nearby residents upset and angry that such a piece of the school and district's history had been targeted by thieves.
"It is just a horrible thing to have happen," she said, adding that during the school holidays there had also been several incidents of vandalism within the grounds.
Grip mats which had been laid on decking outside three classrooms had been torn up.
Mrs Taylor said the brass sundial top had been fixed to a sturdy block and concrete base: "It was so heavy it took four guys to lift it back up again."
She said a visitor staying at a nearby house was awakened in the early hours of October 7 by the sound of men's voices. They also heard what they said sounded like a large car engine, similar to a V8, and a "massive crash".
She suspects the thieves had tied a rope from their car to the brass gnomon pointer and tried to pull it off. It wrenched the sundial free but also pulled the whole base over.
On the same night, the Marine Parade sundial was also targeted. Police said the incidents had to be linked, and that it is believed the thieves were after the brass.
Metal recycling firms across the region had been alerted but no information had come forward yet. Police want to hear from anyone who may have seen cars or people in the areas of the school and Marine Parade gardens on October 6 and 7.