Former detective Ian Revell has a hunch that he hopes is wrong - that a much-loved work of garden art is now a lump of scrap metal.

In what he calls a "despicable theft", a large copper mural was levered off the wall of his home in Castor Bay on the North Shore.

He and his wife Susan heard nothing as they slept early on Saturday, August 14.

They commissioned the $3000 work by artist Vaughan Robinson to symbolise the East Coast Bays of old.

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"Everyone is devastated at its loss, we suspect for the sake of a few tens of dollars' of scrap metal," said Mr Revell, who became a National MP after his police career and is now a real estate agent.

He said he would happily pay a reward for the art-work's safe return, but as a precaution he had alerted licensed scrap metal dealers.