A failed burglar's attempts to disguise himself and break into a Kaitaia computer shop led to the Advocate's most popular story online in 2013.

On the night of July 2 a would-be burglar tried, with comic ineptitude, to smash his way into Laurenson Technology using a water mains cover.

Unfortunately for Kaitaia's criminal mastermind the entire episode - including the five times he scurried away, only to return with a different improvised disguise - was recorded on CCTV.

An IT-savvy employee added subtitles and a Benny Hill soundtrack to the footage and uploaded it to YouTube, where "Kaitaia Criminals" quickly went viral.


The video ends with the hapless burglar returning to the shop in 'Gollum mode', hunched over and with his hoodie pulled over his head, then running off into the night after being surprised by the shop's intruder alarm.

The story, "Failed burglar's antics amuse thousands online", notched up more than 17,000 page impressions.

Business owner Scott Laurenson said colleague Amorangi Mathews only made the video for "a bit of laugh".

"Seeing as we had to pay for the window, we thought we might as well get a bit of humour out of it."

A huge number of customers had called into the store after the video went viral.

"They all thought it was hilarious," Mr Laurenson said.

The second most popular story of the year - and the most hotly debated, both on our website and Facebook - was an interview with Stan Walker for Maori Language Week: "Yous get Maori right, I'll talk proper English." The 22-year-old singer said it was time Kiwis started pronouncing Maori words, such as Aotearoa, correctly before criticising him for his English pronunciation.

The third most popular story, "Titford jailed for 24 years", was also one of the biggest national stories of the year. It detailed how Allan Titford, former poster boy for the anti-Treaty of Waitangi movement, had received Northland's longest prison sentence after being found guilty of decades of abusing his family. He was also found guilty of burning down his own house, an arson attack he blamed on Te Roroa. His claims fuelled racial tensions across New Zealand.

The remainder of the list of 20 stories was dominated by domestic violence tragedies, especially the death of Whangarei woman Patricia "Wowo" McGrath at the hands of her partner, and her family's brave campaign to end domestic abuse.

Also making the top 20 were stories about the death of popular Matauri Bay woman Glenys Stanton in a shooting in Papakura; Whangarei 15-year-old Lil Reihana's battle with cancer; a young Whangarei woman, Alicia Kissick, whose OE ended tragically when a balcony collapsed and left her paralysed; and editor Craig Cooper's impassioned editorial "Our lovely town's dirty little secret" about an attack on his teenage daughter.