''All this damage and loss for a box of lighters.''

Otaika Dairy manager Rakesh Kumar was angry yesterday after three men ram raided the store, causing thousands of dollars of damage, forcing the dairy to close for the day and leaving Mr Kumar and his staff in anguish.

The ram raiders, who were in and out of the shop in less than 30 seconds, were targeting cigarettes, but the security was so good that they could only flee with a box of lighters.

In fact, the thieves had to have three goes at reversing the red Nissan Cube hatchback into the store at 2.45am yesterday, after the first two attempts failed to fully break through the steel security doors.


Mr Kumar, who captured the raid on CCTV, said two of the men, who were hidden by hoods, jumped from the car and ran into the store after they broke in.

Less than 30 seconds later they emerge with only a box of lighters.

Mr Kumar said the damage would cost thousands to repair and the store had to remain closed yesterday, which meant a day's lost trade, which would be on top of the cost of the damage.

'It's not very good. All this damage and loss for a box of lighters. It will cost several thousand to fix and it's a day's trading lost,'' he said.

Mr Kumar said he and the staff were working hard to make a living and provide a service to the Otaika community and the raid had hit them hard.

Whangarei police Senior Sergeant Cliff Metcalfe said a member of the public spotted the car - which had been stolen during a burglary in Dargaville on Sunday night - shortly after the ram raid and followed it south, before losing sight of it at Lookout Hill.

Police were on their way, but could not find the vehicle, which was discovered about 10am yesterday on Otaika Loop Rd. A number of lighters were found on the front passenger seat.

Mr Metcalfe said the car was taken from Awakino Rd on Sunday night, where thieves also took jewellery and electrical items, including a TV.

The car was later forensically examined by police and Mr Metcalfe said anybody who saw the car on Sunday night or early Monday in Dargaville or Whangarei could phone police on 09 430 4500 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.