A Napier business owner awoke to find two of his company cars torched and an inferno threatening his panelbeating workshop.
Aztech Panel Beaters owner Ross Cocking said his Pandora business was attacked by thieves and vandals early last Saturday morning.
"A truck driver that parks down Mersey St some nights to get some rest looked across the road towards the shop at about 3.15am and saw the inferno about to engulf my shop."
He was called by police about 3.40am and informed of a large fire threatening his shop while the flames had already completely "gutted" two cars.
"It was either a complete mishap with them trying to jump start and steal one of the cars or they've done this on purpose."
The two cars destroyed were courtesy cars, a Toyota Corolla and a Nissan Sentra, which Mr Cocking valued at about $2500.
"The vehicles were absolutely gutted but it was more the fact of how close the flames came to the building. There are a few reading books by one of the windows that blew out and it wouldn't have taken much for one of those to light up and set the whole place off. You could see the fire damage to the building. The paint had started to blister and a couple of the windows had completely shattered from the heat."
He said repairs to the workshop would cost close to $1000, while the front of the building now needed to be repainted.
Another car at the back of the workshop also showed signs of being a target of vandalism and siphoning.
"The fuel cap had been jimmied open and there was still a hose hanging out from the gas tank that they had taken from the the front of the building. The Toyota that was torched was also siphoned about four months ago."
He said vandalism and theft was nothing new and something he and other businesses in the area had learnt to live with. "They have in the past stolen batteries and mag wheels. About eight or nine months ago I lost seven mag wheels and about four batteries. I guess times are getting tougher for these kinds of people and they are going for anything and everything."
Protecting his shop, vehicles and car parts was difficult but he hoped extra security might deter would-be vandals and thieves.
"My shop is usually full with all the work I get so I can't put the cars inside, but I am looking at installing a security camera out the front."
For more articles from this region, go to Hawkes Bay Today