A Far North hunter is worried for the safety of his three hunting dogs that were stolen along with a ute while it was parked on Kaitaia's main street.
The canine trio Jocko, Strap and Hairy are highly-trained pig hunting dogs and were in a plywood dog box on the back of the 2008 gold-coloured Mazda BT-50 ute when it was stolen on Thursday about 5.30am.
Owner Scott, who did want his last name used, had parked the ute on Commerce St, grabbed some money from the cash machine and then crossed the road to the bakery to get breakfast when a male got in the ute and drove away.
Unfortunately Scott had left the keys in the ignition, as he was no more than 30 metres away and was dashing in and out.
Also in the ute were two firearms which were to be used during the hunting and fishing trip over the weekend.
But Scott, who is living in Kaitaia, is most concerned about his dogs he has spent years training.
"I just want them back. It takes a lot of time and money to get them to a level where they are great hunters and can provide for you," Scott said.
"They end up becoming part of your family and they help you put food on the table. Not only do they put food on our table but we give plenty of wild pork away to others' families."
He had owned the dogs since they were puppies and had paid $400 each for Jocko and Strap and $800 for Hairy. However, with the training and their experience they could be sold for up to $3000 as pig hunting dogs.
Scott said he had stopped to get cash and food on his way to collect his uncle before they headed north along Ninety Mile beach towards the bluff where they intended to camp and go pig hunting and fishing for three days.
He had packed up the ute, which actually belongs to his mother, with all the gear needed and he estimates in total about $8000 worth of equipment was stolen.
Police have appealed to members of the public who see the ute to call 111 immediately.
The registration number of the ute is HRE479.
Kaitaia police Senior Sergeant Russell Richards said police were concerned about the unlawful taking of the vehicle containing two firearms and the welfare of three dogs.
It is not the first time a ute with hunting dogs on the back has been stolen in Northland. In March 2018 two pig dogs were burned alive after thieves stole a ute and torched it.
Chad Scrivener, 22 and his brother Theo, 24, from Broadwood, 48km southeast of Kaitaia, lost about $10,000 worth of hunting gear and cash in the fire that a senior firefighter called "absolutely despicable".
Waaka Moka was arrested and appeared in the Kaitaia District Court charged with cruelty to an animal, arson and unlawfully taking a vehicle in relation to the incident.