A trio of burglars would have still have thousands of dollars worth of stolen cigarettes and tobacco had it not been for the actions of a vigilant Kapiti policeman.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning the three offenders arrived at the Coastlands shopping complex in Paraparaumu in a Mazda 6 that had been stolen beforehand in Rosetta Rd, Raumati.
The trio, fully covered in dark clothing including balaclavas, forced a double door fire exit on the side of the complex and made their way directly to a Lotto outlet.
"They spent a little over five minutes inside and took cigarettes from the cabinet situated behind the counter," Senior Sergeant Chanel Chapman of Kapiti police said.
"As they forced their way into the office at the back of the outlet, an alarm sounded and the three made their way out of Coastlands.
"The offenders left with about $20,000 worth of cigarettes and tobacco."
But at the same time as they were leaving the Coastlands carpark, a vigilant police officer, who was unaware of the burglary that had just occurred, saw the vehicle and decided it looked suspicious.
"He attempted to stop it, the vehicle failed to stop and took off at speed and a pursuit was initiated.
"In the Paraparaumu Beach area, the vehicle was found abandoned and unfortunately the three offenders were not located.
"Upon a search of the vehicle the cigarettes and tobacco were located and recovered."
Police had still not been alerted to the Coastlands burglary but knew something was amiss with the amount of cigarettes and tobacco in the vehicle, she said.
"In an effort to find out where the cigarettes had come from, police drove the whole of Kapiti checking dairies and garages looking for break-ins.
"Some hours after the Coastlands event, police were notified and the Lotto shop was contained for forensic examination."
The three offenders haven't been located yet.