Cigarettes and ice cream formed the ill-gotten shopping list a group of alleged thieves took after they smashed their way into a Ruakākā petrol station with a car.
Officers were called to the GAS Bream Bay petrol station on State Highway 1, just south of Whangārei, about 12.30am yesterday when the alarm was triggered by the ram raid.
CCTV security footage shows a yellow Mazda inching backwards towards the entrance of the petrol station – before it suddenly accelerates and smashes through the glass doors.
It then speeds forward as five people, believed to be teens, dressed in hooded jumpers run inside the unmanned store. The driver also joins them.
The station's manager, Balbinder Singh, said he arrived at the store within 15 minutes to a scene of shattered glass, scattered shelves, and the yellow car abandoned on the forecourt with the engine still running.
"We checked around as we thought someone was still around in the store."
Other than a lot of damage around the counter and on the stands where the car hit, staff discovered cigarettes, papers and filters used for smokes missing - plus a few sweet treats.
"They took some ice creams too," Singh said.
The station's co-owner, Chris Elavia, said the group of alleged thieves had arrived in up to three vehicles.
Singh and Elavia spent the wee hours of the morning clearing the debris so the store was able to open at 5am.
Customers popping into the station had offered Singh hugs and encouraging words as they either noticed the gaping hole for an entrance or had read news of the ram raid online.
"Some have said, 'good luck for the day – don't worry'. They treat me like family," Singh said.
"It's not my nature to get angry, for me I'm just keeping myself calm and staying positive."
This was the second ram raid Singh had experienced in the five years he worked at the station where cigarettes were taken.
"It's just a part of what happens, really. We'll be okay."
Another Ruakākā resident reported three car-loads of people attempting to steal their car about an hour after the ram raid occurred.
It is not known if the two incidents were related, but police are investigating.
The events come a week after Whangārei police revealed a spike in vehicle crime was being driven by youth challenging one another to pull off various thefts in the city.
Vehicle owners from Tikipunga, Kensington, Kamo, and Maunu were especially vocal about cars being taken and later dumped. Mazdas have been one of the main vehicle types targeted.
Acting Senior Sergeant Christian Stainton, area prevention manager Whangārei, said police had made a number of arrests over those thefts and were working with Neighbourhood Support and Community Patrol Groups to prevent further incidents.