A Napier woman with terminal cancer and in a wheelchair is desperate for the return of a laptop computer stolen from her car by an opportunist thief on Tuesday.

Connie Taurima was being dropped off at the RSA when the dark-coloured Toshiba computer, loaded with priceless family photos and images of her father's tangi, was taken at midday from her blue Holden SV outside the RSA in the barely 10 minutes her nephew was inside helping her settle into the club.

He returned with the bad news shortly afterwards.

The theft was reported to police but last night she and friends were appealing for the return of the laptop, contents intact, for her and her family to continue collating the photos, some of them irreplaceable.

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"The laptop isn't worth much but the photos of my Mum and Dad are and his tangi are priceless," she said.

"This absolutely saddens me, so please help if you can. My nephew usually locks the car but this time he forgot," she said. "But that doesn't give any little so-and-so the right to steal my property."