Hawke's Bay businesses are being urged to come up with a security plan after a recent "stairdancing" incident in the Onekawa industrial area.
Workplace stairdancing - opportunistic stealing during working hours - usually happen at times when staff are likely to be away from their usual work areas during tea or lunch breaks.
Napier police Constable Mike Byrne said the recent incident could have cost a worker at a Ford Rd workshop dearly if he had not acted as quickly as he did.
The man had gone to get his smartphone but discovered it was missing - so immediately used another phone to call it.
Mr Byrne said the call did not have to go far as the phone was in the hands of teenagers standing on the other side of the road.
The teens had run off when they realised they had been spotted and to the owner's relief left the undamaged phone at the scene.
"They had walked into the workshop while the staff were at lunch," Mr Byrne said, adding it was a "classic stairdancing" theft as they would have watched and waited for the right time to go in.
The teenagers were described as male Maori or Pacific Islanders, about 14 or 15, medium height and skinny.
One was wearing a blue and yellow hoody top and the other a red hooded top.
"People have to keep an eye out for this sort of thing," Mr Byrne said. "Have a look at your premises and see if it could potentially be targeted while staff are having breaks or tied up with other things - see if you can come up with a strategy to counter it."
One possible strategy was surveillance cameras.
Mr Byrne, who is community constable for Tamatea and the Onekawa and Pandora industrial areas, said security cameras had recently proved their worth in solving three of five reported thefts from retailers in the area.
Cameras had picked up a woman concealing a socket set in a pram she was wheeling, caught a man taking a hole punch and drill bits and picked up the registration of a car used by a man who had allegedly stolen items from a shop.
Mitre 10 Mega manager John Joyce said cameras the Pandora store had operated "since day one" were invaluable.
"The prevention aspect is high because people know they are there and if we get a case of theft very often we can catch them."
The cameras were a crucial component of security.
"Shoplifting is always there - it will always happen but we have a very low loss rate because we are strong on prevention, and the cameras are absolutely invaluable."