A mother and her 15-year-old daughter were part of a six-strong female group who allegedly stole $7500 worth of clothing from a Whangarei business.
But thanks to great work from the community, combined with quick police work, all six have been arrested and 60 stolen items returned to the store.
However, the business owner has called for more ratepayer money to be spent on CBD security patrols to make the area safer and more welcoming for the public.
Whangarei police sergeant Storm Sandilands said five of the six women went into the shop while the 34-year-old mother of the youngest alleged thief waited in a car about 4pm on Wednesday.
It's alleged while some of the females got a number of items and took them to the counter to distract others, the group grabbed 60 items between them and fled the store.
The shop assistant chased them and members of the public also joined in, with one man collecting some of the items that were dropped as they fled.
However they escaped in the waiting car.
Ms Sandilands said officers were alerted to the theft and minutes later officers patrolling in Tikipunga pulled over the vehicle. All six females - with the others aged 16, 19, 26 and 28 - were charged with theft and the stolen clothing recovered. They will appear in court next week.
The business owner and young dad, who did not want to be identified for the safety of his family, called for more rates money to be spent on more CitySafe security officers to patrol the central city.
He said CitySafe staff were amazing but there were not enough of them.
"We have two kids, we pay rates and rent for the building. We're trying to make an honest living and the economy is not the best at the moment so you don't want people ripping you off," he said.
"I want the council to give more resources and funding for the CitySafe officers." He said Whangarei was a great city and it was only a few who made the place feel unsafe for the majority.
"People should feel safe and should be able to run a business and not feel uncomfortable walking around town. We want more people in town and it would be good for all the businesses if everyone felt safe."
He was grateful police had recovered the items.
"The police got the gear back and you don't often hear about that."
His business has security cameras installed.
Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai said it was disappointing that a group had allegedly thought about, planned and executed such a big thieving operation.
"[But] I'm delighted to hear that retailers recognise the partnership we have with police and the Chamber of Commerce in providing CitySafe workers on the street and the other CitySafe initiatives, like CCTV, a rapid graffiti response and the 0800 (0800 258 258) number for people to call if they have concerns," she said.
"I'm very keen to continue that relationship and look at options for it going into the future. We are looking at these issues as a council. And I'm absolutely rapt that the community and police helped rectify the situation for the retailer."