An Auckland drainlayer's faith in humanity has been shattered after his truck and digger - his "livelihood" - were stolen opportunistically.
Titirangi-based Craig Hodgkinson had toiled away over the past three years to build up his business, and after a hard year with Covid-19 lockdowns was just getting back up on his feet again.
As he arrived at the Eastern Beach home of a new client last week in east Auckland, he parked the truck in the drive - as he usually would - jumped out and went around the back of the house to inspect the job.
A few minutes later when he returned, the truck was gone.
He'd left the keys in the ignition, something he says he feels awful about but which he had never previously thought twice about.
"Obviously I wish I hadn't done that now but I've always done it, and it was in the drive, we were so close, I just didn't think anybody would steal it.
"I was in shock. I think I am still in shock. We were only gone a couple of minutes.
"This is my livelihood, how I make my money, without it I am back at square one.
"I just can't imagine what this would be worth to them."
Hodgkinson had worked in the drainlaying industry the past two decades for a small company. After that owner retired he decided to give it a go himself.
He started off borrowing gear off friends and eventually started earning enough to buy his own truck and digger.
Since the start of Covid-19 business had been tough, and he'd been looking to make savings wherever he could, including pausing his insurance payments with increasingly high premiums.
Consequently, he is looking at a loss of about $40,000 to replace the gear.
His partner Dayna Rutherfurd said she was worried for Hodgkinson, as the business was "his livelihood".
"He is broken, he can't even hand dig as his spade and wheelbarrow were on the back.
"He had taken so much with him as the job was so far away it's just made it worse.
"He feels like he has lost his identity. Everything he has worked for and it is a very helpless and hopeless feeling right now.
"He is a lovely man, works hard for his clients and his friends, gives up his weekends and his time for people in his life. It's hard to see him so broken."
Rutherfurd had set up a Givealittle page, and so far over $10,000 has been raised.
"It's been fantastic, it's restored my faith in people," Hodgkinson said.
They'd filed a police report and were appealing far and wide for sightings, particularly over the Easter Weekend with people out and about.
The truck is an Isuzu Elf 2006, with license plate ERL600 and the digger a Bobcat 323J.
"It is pretty visible I can't imagine what they are going to be able to do with it," Hodgkinson said.
"I just want my stuff back. I don't care about whoever did it, if they could just leave it somewhere we could find it - I just want it back."