It's not often that Northlanders enjoy seeing their criminal fraternity at work - but the antics of a hapless Kaitaia burglar are entertaining thousands of people thanks to CCTV and the World Wide Web.
A video posted to YouTube on Wednesday shows an attempted burglary the previous night at Laurenson Technology, a computer sales and service shop on Kaitaia's Commerce St. The perfectly chosen soundtrack to the CCTV footage is the theme tune to The Benny Hill Show, a slapstick TV series popular in the 1980s.
The video, dubbed Kaitaia Criminals, has since been shared online by the Advocate, Houhora police and many others. On the Advocate's Facebook page alone it was viewed more than 2200 times by 9am on Friday.
The footage starts just after 9pm on July 2 with a barefoot man in boardshorts and a red jacket walking down Commerce St. He stops clutching his head just long enough to take a look in the window of Laurenson Technology, then returns a moment later with a water mains cover.
He appears to have second thoughts and scurries away before returning, minus the cover, for another peek and running off again. When he returns for a better look he is cunningly disguised with the red jacket over his head.
The next time he returns, for a third and fourth leer through the window, he is wearing a different jacket. Moments later he comes charging back, his mind apparently made up, but scuttles away when spooked by a passing car.
His final return is made in full "Gollum mode", hunched over and with a dark jacket pulled over his head. It takes two bashes with the mains cover and one with his arm to break the window, but Kaitaia's criminal mastermind appears to be surprised the shop has an alarm and scurries off into the night. Unfortunately for the would-be burglar, he was recognised by a Far North police officer and can look forward to a visit from the long arm of the law.
Laurenson Technology owner Scott Laurenson said once he had replaced the broken door pane with a metal sheet he asked staff member Amorangi Mathews to go through the CCTV footage. "He said, 'Holy heck, you have to see this guy'. It's really funny how he tries to cover up at the end."
Mr Mathews used his editing skills to add captions and the soundtrack, while former employee Dave Murray, now living in Perth, uploaded the video to YouTube. The clear footage, not to mention the fact the hapless burglar returned five times, would make identification easy.
Mr Laurenson said he hoped publicity would deter future burglars. Although damage in this case was relatively minor, every broken window was a cost he could do without.