For Whangarei audio-visual technician Tim Bell, a big part of his livelihood was gone in seconds after thieves stole $7000 worth of specialist equipment from the back of his van while he was preparing for a charity fundraiser.

Mr Bell, from Belltech Audio Visual Equipment Rental Service, was setting up his sound and lighting equipment in Whangarei's Butter Factory about 3.15pm on Thursday for a Ronald McDonald House charity fundraising event later that evening.

He parked his van in Butter Factory Lane, and in between loads thieves entered the van and took an Allen and Heath QU16 mixing deck worth about $4000 and a Theatrelite Nova 36 lighting desk worth $3000.

Mr Bell was able to use some of his other equipment to ensure the charity fundraiser still went ahead, but is now faced with hiring equipment for his upcoming bookings.


"I was providing the sound and lighting for the fundraiser and would have only been away from the van for a few minutes. I came back to find them gone," he said.

"At first I thought I'd gone crazy and checked to make sure I hadn't taken them into the venue or left them at home. I was doubting myself ... but it was gone. Due to circumstances the equipment was not insured, so I'm now $7000 out of pocket. I've got other jobs lined up so I need that equipment.

"[The stolen gear is] going to be pretty useless to anybody unless they are an audio engineer - it can't just be hooked up to your home theatre or stereo set-up - and the industry here is fairly small and I know most of them, so it's going to be very difficult to sell."

Anybody with information can contact Whangarei police on (09) 430 4500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.