Olivia Smith feels like a part of her soul was taken and replaced with guilt when bagpipes blown by four generations of her family over 120 years were stolen from her car boot last month.
The 23-year-old sat down to a quick meal with a friend about 8.20pm on May 27 believing the bustle of Auckland's restaurant strip Dominion Rd would keep her pipes safe only metres away.
But driving off from the corner of Carmen and Dominion Rds barely an hour later she immediately tweaked to the puzzling sound of an open window.
"I pulled over, opened the boot and literally my heart just sunk, I could not believe they were gone. They're irreplaceable," Smith said.
"I could buy another set of pipes, that's fine, but they had so much history. I really feel like you've let your family down a little bit by having them stolen."
Smith says what would have initially looked like a black laptop backpack was swiped in a smash and grab job though a small quarter glass window accessing the boot.
"It was actually quite busy which is why I didn't think it was that risky leaving them there," Smith said.
"When I noticed the back window smashed in and saw that my bagpipes were stolen, my world fell apart.
"We wandered around the streets hoping someone had dumped them once they realised this is not a laptop. Didn't find anything."
What was taken were bagpipes that her great-grandfather, Thomas Magee Smith, bought in Glasgow, Scotland, around the turn of the 20th century.
After immigrating to New Zealand, Thomas Smith joined the Canterbury Caledonian Society where he and his son played the now missing bagpipes for decades throughout last century.
While in Year 11 at St Andrew's College, Olivia Smith decided to continue the family tradition and also joined the Canterbury Caledonian Society playing under band Pipe Master Richard Hawke - who was a youngster under her grandfather.
She has since played the same bagpipes as her grandfather's casket was lifted out during his funeral.
While working as a manager for Synlait Milk during the day, Smith says she "aspires to be New Zealand's best woman piper" and is already playing in the top Grade 1 band nationally.
The loss of the family pipes means she cannot compete in the National Bagpipe Solo competition in Dunedin over the Queen's Birthday weekend.
It has also just left a huge void in her daily life.
"The routine is you get home from work and you take the pipes out for an hour or so and that's your routine. It feels a bit like someone's taken your bloody soul. It's a massive part of my life and my family's life really - coming to competitions and things."
Smith says she reported the theft to police, and contacted Cash Converters and Trade Me to make them aware those pipes were stolen if an online sale appeared.
Notices were also posted to every Facebook resident group Smith had access to. One post from her step-mother garnered 6300 shares.
Smith says it would be both unwise, and unprofitable to try to onsell the Smith family bagpipes due to their distinctiveness, and the tight-knight nature of the New Zealand bagpipe community.
"If it goes back to the bagpipe community it's a very small community as you can probably imagine. What I'm hoping is I could get this out to the person, or somebody who knows somebody who's just turned up with a random set of bagpipes and negotiate to get them back."
The Smith family have offered a money reward for anyone who returns the pipes.
Anyone who has any information on the bagpipes' whereabouts, or possesses them and wishes to discuss a reward, can call 021 569 917.
Smith assures this can be done without fear of repercussions.
"I'm not interested in getting the police involved to prosecute or anything like that. That's the least of my worries, we're just really wanting the pipes back," she said.
"They're so important to us and they really have no value for anyone else and I'm hoping if we can appeal to that person or somebody who knows them. If it's money they're after they can get it from us, they don't need to sell it on.
"They're quite unique and very recognisable as pipes go, so probably the highest risk thing they could do is try to onsell them in the community."