Tauranga's newest homeless women's shelter, Awhina House, has been burgled before the doors have even been opened to those in need.
Earlier this month, thieves broke into the property by breaking the locks on the front gate before forcing their way into the garage by tampering with the door.
The stolen items, which were originally gifted to the organisation, included a washing machine, lawn mower, weed eater, power tools and garden equipment, such as a spade and fork.
He Kaupapa Kotahitanga Trust Tauranga chairwoman Angela Wallace called the thieves opportunists who were "basically taking from homeless women who have nothing".
She described the theft as "very tidy", with the burglars closing the garage door and leaving the place as they found it - aside from snatching the items.
The break-in likely occurred around January 17 when Wallace noticed that the locks on the front gate had been broken, but she thought that they had always been like that.
It was not until last Thursday, however, that it was noticed that the items had been taken.
Wallace got a shock when a trusted volunteer had come around to trim the lawn but the mower had disappeared. She then discovered the washing machine had been taken from the laundry area.
The break-in comes after months of hard work to get the ball rolling to get the refuge up and running, and the centre is still in the set-up process and was about to install security cameras.
While the trust had insurance with a $1000 excess, it would be no easy feat for the trust to raise the funds and replace the stolen goods.
It would take a considerable amount of time and energy to replace the stolen items, along with the trouble of filing a police report and insurance claim.
It was also unsettled Wallace knowing that someone had broken in.
"Just knowing that someone has been here and had come through that stuff ... it's quite violating."
The washing machine would have been a vital part of the centre's operations, while the lawn-mowing gear was set to be used by the residents to help develop life-skills and avoid paying for the on-cost of a lawn-mowing contractor.
A police spokesperson said the matter had been reported and inquiries were being made.
How to help
He Kaupapa Kotahitanga Trust Tauranga welcomes donations via their bank account to help cover the cost of the theft.
Westpac bank account: 03-1720-0037447-000