A Paihia family is appealing for help in tracking down a would-be thief who smashed a corner of their house, wrecked a trailer and left a prized boat stuck on a retaining wall.

James Ruscoe works in Auckland but keeps his boat, a 5.3m Haines Signature runabout, at his mum's place in Paihia.

He keeps the trailer padlocked and clamped, and parks it close to the house to make it hard to get out.

A tenant heard a noise about 2.45pm on Monday but didn't think much of it. It was only later, about 3.30pm, that the tenant and Ruscoe's mum discovered someone had attempted a brazen, daylight theft.

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James Ruscoe's boat was abandoned when the would-be thief got the trailer stuck with one wheel over a retaining wall. Photo / Supplied
James Ruscoe's boat was abandoned when the would-be thief got the trailer stuck with one wheel over a retaining wall. Photo / Supplied

It appeared the would-be thief had cut the padlock and wheel clamp, hooked the trailer up to a vehicle and tried to take off.

In the process the offender had smashed a corner of the house and left a gouge in the driveway where the outboard had dragged along the concrete.

The thief only made it about 20m down the driveway before one wheel of the trailer went off the edge of a retaining wall. The trailer ended up wedged between a tree and the wall.

It appeared the thief had then decoupled the trailer and taken off.

"I'm bloody pissed off," Ruscoe said.

"I'm disappointed and frustrated that it's affected my mum and the other people living here."

Adding insult to injury the damaged house had been built by his father, who had only recently died.

The trailer was badly damaged in the attempted boat theft. Photo / Supplied
The trailer was badly damaged in the attempted boat theft. Photo / Supplied

Ruscoe appealed to anyone with information about the theft, or who had seen suspicious activity in Sullivans Rd area on Monday afternoon, to call police on 105 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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The boat itself did not appear to have any structural damage though the trailer was a likely write-off.

The boat was not visible from the road so the thief may have scoped the property out earlier, he said.

CCTV footage had been passed on to the police.