The Hastings RSA is reeling after $50,000 worth of equipment used to help war veterans and the elderly was stolen.
"It's disgusting and despicable, especially because it's for the welfare of older people," RSA president Trevor Hardie told Hawke's Bay Today. "We're trying to keep them in their own homes, instead of rest homes, but this has put the kibosh on that."
The property was taken overnight Wednesday from a locked shed on Warren St, Hastings, which had been used to store oversized items and overflow from the RSA for about three years.
It is believed the thieves may have scoped out the area, as they used specific tools to cut a bolt which secured the heavy roller door.
A yellow Walker ride-on lawn mower with a white catchment container on the back, was a huge loss for the RSA, which employed two full-time staff to mow 40 to 50 lawns a fortnight.
"We did a lot of fundraising and also got some money from the gaming machines to assist with this facility," Mr Hardie said. "The service has been going for about seven or eight years now."
The high-tech mower, the only one of its kind in the Bay, was worth $35,000. Other stolen items included a Kia custom-made tandem trailer, leaf blower, Stihl weed eater, Lawn Master standard mower and petrol containers.
"This is certainly a high-value burglary," Hastings Detective Sergeant Jason Crowe said. "What makes it worse is that this is equipment used to benefit the community. But that's not of any concern to the thieves.
"There has been a significant increase in residential burglaries in the last few weeks, which is not unusual in Hawke's Bay over winter, but it's been quite noticeable."
People were asked to keep an eye out for the stolen goods, which may appear on Trade Me or social networking sites such as Facebook, popular outlets to sell stolen items.
Anyone with information can call Hastings police on (06) 873 0500 or anonymously on Crime Stoppers 0800 555 111