When a thief struck at the Vigor Brown St Store in Napier last Sunday he took the one thing owner Zan Lee had installed to prevent things being taken.

He made off with a computer-linked webcam security camera, although it was not exactly a clean getaway and Mr Lee is hoping someone, somewhere, will identify the culprit from images picked up on two other cameras he has installed.

Mr Lee said he could see the irony in the situation - the one item stolen was a camera to prevent items being stolen.

"And I would like it back," he said.


Mr Lee said he was still slightly puzzled why the man, who had been walking along Latham St toward the dairy around 5.45 in the morning, decided to linger around the closed-up doorway for a few seconds, before then moving around the corner, then back again for a close gaze up at the $200 camera.

"He was stepping around the pile of newspapers which were on the footpath after being dropped off - and he was looking at the doors."

The man, who was not trying to disguise himself, then clambers up onto a wooden bench seat beside the doorway and can be seen wrenching the camera unit off before running off along Latham St and heading toward George's Drive.

"He might have been thinking 'am I on camera?' and decided to take the evidence away - he was acting a bit suspiciously but he hadn't taken anything else."

What the man failed to realise was that a part from the other two outside cameras the webcam he made off with had been loading what it was seeing directly on to a hard drive system.

Mr Lee made prints of some of the images and has had them on display in the store, and a couple of people have passed on possible names.

"I would like him to come and give the camera back."

Mr Lee said it was the latest incident since taking over the corner shop seven months ago.

He had already had two encounters with shoplifters, but through the use of his cameras was able to have them identified and spoken to.

On the second occasion he came across the young offenders two days later and after being spoken to he had not seen them in the neighbourhood again.

Mr Lee moved to Napier from New Plymouth to take on a dairy business in the Bay and said there appeared to be more problems here, particularly with groups of young people.

"And I think it's getting worse - there isn't really any punishment."