Ohaeawai Dairy owner Virgie Murray just can't understand why a burglar would steal 25 years' worth of memories.
She is appealing for the return of three autograph books packed with signatures from celebrities, sports stars and tourists who have called into the family-run shop over the past quarter century.
About 4.20am on Tuesday a burglar cut through two padlocks and jemmied a side door to get into the dairy, on State Highway 1 about 10km east of Kaikohe.
Murray said the offender then had to cut through another padlock on a steel gate separating the staff area at the rear of the dairy from the shop itself.
CCTV footage shows the unhurried burglar casually taking $8000 worth of cigarettes from racks and a storage cabinet along with $100 in postage stamps. The till was forced open with a crowbar but contained only a small amount of cash.
Worse was the theft of three notebooks with the autographs of every famous person who had visited the dairy as long as Virgie, her husband Bill and son Benj had owned it.
''It's a collection of all the celebrities who've come in to the shop. We've had TV announcers, Dancing with the Stars contestants, a lot of sports people — Stacey Jones would always call in here, and April Ieremia — and untold All Blacks,'' Murray said.
Comedian Pio Terei had also left his mark along with many overseas tourists.
The autograph books, the size of a school notebook but with a hard cover and maroon and orange stripes, had no monetary value but great sentimental value.
She appealed to anyone who had them, or knew where they were, to return them to the shop or deliver them to Kaikohe police.
CCTV footage shows a single person in a pale hoodie, dark jacket and gumboots entering the dairy at 4.24am, returning about 10 minutes later, then leaving a second time at 4.39am.
The offender had no interest in other items, even picking up a charity donation box and returning it to the counter. Main street CCTV shows no vehicles coming or going at the time. It's hard to make out features but Murray believes the burglar is a woman.
She said insurance would not cover their losses so the break-in would be ''a big hit'' financially.
Ohaeawai Dairy was something of a social institution in the small Mid North town.
''It's a gathering place for the community. It's a family dairy. We've been here 25 years and we're regarded as part of the town,'' she said.
Past burglaries had been minor apart from an incident in 2015 when three teens used a van stolen from Bay of Islands College to smash through the front roller door. The damage was significant but they took only drinks and pies.
If you have any information about the burglary call Kaikohe police on (09) 405 2960 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Meanwhile, in Whangārei, a man is believed to have pointed a long-barrelled firearm at a worker in a takeaway shop in an unsuccessful attempt to steal the shop till.
Police had a report of a man running from Aroi Thai on Station Rd in Kamo about 9.15pm on Monday. He was seen on nearby Eden Terrace but was not located.