Doubtless Bay man Murray Smith is hardly unique in having lost a car to a thief, but his case is special.

The vehicle, stolen from outside Kaitaia Glass in Matthews' Avenue, Kaitaia, on Thursday afternoon, was a 2007 V8 XR8 Ford Falcon, 77-year-old Mr Smith's absolute pride and joy.

"It was immaculately kept and specced," Mr Smith's wife Barbara said.

"It spent much of its time in the garage. We really only used it when we went on a trip. He only took it to Kaitaia on Thursday because he wanted someone to look at the muffler."

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He had left the vehicle immediately outside reception at Kaitaia Glass, hidden from the street by a fence, for no more than three or four minutes, suggesting that whoever took it had been watching him.

"My husband is an invalid, with a parking permit on the windscreen and two walking sticks on the back seat of the car," Mrs Smith said.

"Whoever took it knew who they were taking it from. They knew he wouldn't be able to go running after them.

The insurer had said it would pay out on the $18,000 car, although Mrs Smith said its monetary value would be significantly more than that, and its sentimental value much greater still.

"We are both devastated," she said.

"It is shocking to think there are people like this, horrible ratbags, who would do this. Some people like to do good things in their community, and some like to it in the teeth.

"This car was my husband's baby. It was going to be his forever, but I don't think we'll see it again. The only thing we've heard is that it was caught by a police speed camera at Pakaraka on Friday."

The couple had two other vehicles, so were still mobile, but this one was special.

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"It even had sheepskin seat covers with Murray's initials on them," she added.

"Who are these people who can do this to good, elderly citizens. They had to have been watching for an opportunity, and must be known to someone in this town.

"Our faith and trust in humanity is shattered."