Kaitaia is under seige from bands of young burglars running rampant breaking into business premises on the town's main street, a business owner says.
Restaurants, service stations and motels on Commerce St have been repeatedly targeted since the New Year, with thieves smashing windows to enter and make off with loot like tobacco, liquor and other goods - even a 50-inch TV was walked down the road from a motel by the bold robbers.
The latest robbery was at the Orana Motor Inn, where burglars broke a front window to enter and steal liquor at 1am on Saturday.
Inn co-owner Chris Aitken kept watch and scared off two people who returned at 3.35am. The pair fled on foot. After putting plywood over the broken window, Mr Aitken thought the intruders would not be back.
But when he woke at 2.30am on Sunday and looked out of his upstairs bedroom window he spotted someone wearing a hoodie lurking in an area between the inn and a church next door.
He called police, who arrived promptly and arrested two youths, one aged 18, the other a minor.
They and others had allegedly entered the inn through a window, loaded liquor from the restaurant bar into a milk crate and rubbish bin and were carrying it away.
Mr Aitken returned to his bed, but at 3.30am he heard his car start and by the time he got downstairs it was gone. He had not noticed earlier that the keys to the gold-coloured Ford Falcon XR6, registration number BLJ183, had been taken from the restaurant bar.
A late-model car taken from a Commerce St motel in January was later found trashed in Grigg St. A woman called police to report seeing young people jumping on the car's roof and breaking its windscreen.
In an associated development, police are investigating whether there is a link between the Orana Motor Inn liquor theft and a Kaitaia youth being airlifted to Whangarei by rescue helicopter early on Sunday with suspected alcohol poisoning. Also, a "very drunk" young male detained by police when discovered in a Grigg St yard early on Sunday was later found to be aged 13.