A Whangārei contractor has had his livelihood threatened by the brazen theft of his 5.5 tonne digger that he had been using on roadworks south of the city.
Pai Lazarus has been working on roadworks around the Loop Rd/State Highway One/Portland Rd upgrade and on Monday night parked his bright yellow, 5.5 tonne CAT digger on a property near the roadworks along with some other heavy equipment, including another digger and a road roller.
It was parked in a private residence on SH1 at the south side of Lookout Hill, before the new Loop Rd roundabout.
About midnight the property owner heard a group of people in the paddock with the heavy machinery.
But because they were making plenty of noise, and being quite brazen about what they were doing - even moving the road roller first - the man assumed they were taking it for night works on the roading upgrade.
''They were just so brazen, making so much noise and talking aloud that he thought they must be there to do some night works. He saw that they had an old white Hino four wheeler truck with one piece ramps attached and didn't give it too much thought as he thought they were picking it up to do night works,'' Pai's wife Cheryl Lazarus said.
''The truck was later spotted going through roadworks on SH1 at Hikurangi between 1am - 1.30am and that would fit in well with the timeframe.''
The digger, which is about two-years-old, cost about $100,000 new and it's loss had caused major disruptions to Pai's business.
Cheryl said the thieves had obviously put some thought into the heist and they had also tried to start another digger in the paddock before stealing Pai's.
''We've got insurance, but we'll have to wait a while before we can claim to get a replacement, and we've also got an excess to pay, so it's a major inconvenience.
''We just want it back ASAP. It's Pai's baby and he can do almost any work with it and it's such a great piece of machinery for his work. He's being doing this for 20 years and it's his livelihood that's being affected by this.''
She said Pai would normally work on a job for a few days or possibly weeks, but he had been working on the Loop Rd roadworks for many months.
Cheryl said in all his time working in the industry this was the first time anything like this had happened to him - and they didn't want it to happen again.
She also wanted anybody on SH1 between Portland and Kawakawa with CCTV cameras pointing at the highway to check to see if they have any footage of the white truck with the digger on the back in the early hours of Tuesday.
''Hopefully somebody has seen them, or has footage of them, that we can use to get the digger back. It's a real pain and we're just desperate to get the digger back and get it back on the job.''
She said the theft had been reported to police and anybody with information on the theft should contact Whangārei police on 105. The police file number is 210316/5514.