A Far North butcher is wondering whether he'd be better off on the dole after his shop was emptied by thieves for the third time in three years.
Greg 'Jacko' Jackson, the owner of Jacko's Discount Meats, turned up at his Moerewa store at 6am on Wednesday to find thieves had used a sledgehammer to smash through the back wall. They took all his meat, with a retail value of about $6000, then turned the shop upside down, presumably looking for anything else of value.
They also took his knives and about $300 in cash.
Mr Jackson spent all day Wednesday cleaning up, while friends helped him repair the back wall. Now he's wondering if it's worth the effort of opening again.
"It's just about shut me down," he said.
"What's the point? Am I better off on the dole?"
The break-ins had put a strain on his whole family, who relied on him to pay the rent for their home, he added.
Moerewa was a small place and there was plenty of talk about who had done it. A steady stream of locals had come in to say how sorry they were, and on Wednesday afternoon he got one brisket and a couple of pork loins back. He doubted he'd see the rest of the meat, however.
He believed the thieves were youths who were stealing to order for adult drug dealers. It was methamphetamine, not meat, they were really after.
"These guys are only young, but they're ruthless. They can take your livelihood away in less than half an hour," he said.
"We have to get rid of this stuff [methamphetamine]. Kaikohe's just as bad, and Kerikeri's got it as well."
The offenders knew no police would be available in the Mid North between 2am and 5am - Wednesday's break-in was at 2.45am - and that police hands were tied anyway because they were underage, he said.
The last time his shop was targeted, causing almost $2000 worth of damage, the same youths raided several other businesses in Moerewa before hitch-hiking south and continuing their spree in Whangarei. They were caught but "got off on a technicality."
"They're encouraged to do it again. It's just a joke to them," he added.
His shop was uninsured because the premiums were too high.
The insurance company also said the shop needed bars, but his landlord said he couldn't afford to install them.
Senior Sergeant Brian Swann urged anyone who was offered cheap meat, or knew who the offenders were, to call their local police station immediately.
"With that amount of meat the offenders are going to want to sell it. If you purchase it you're just damaging a small local business, and you're committing an offence yourself by buying stolen property," he said.
Senior Sergeant Swann added that overnight police capacity was limited in the Mid North, but plans were in hand to change rosters to broaden the coverage. The police could also respond to a series of offences by putting on more staff at night.