In this country, if you're going to do a "smash and grab" then it's probably on a dairy or a service station and your chief target is cigarettes.

There's been a spate of them in the Far North recently, but over the weekend it happened in the poshest of the posh - the Auckland suburb of Parnell.

And the target? Two Lindauer paintings worth a cool $1-million.

It's like something out of a movie, isn't it?


In the early hours of the morning, a ute crashes through the front of the International Art Centre on Parnell Rd, and the two masterpieces are snatched.

There's no alarm. Nothing.

All that's left is the smashed glass of the street-front gallery, and an empty space where two of our most iconic paintings once hung. Oh, and a ute.

They were going to be auctioned tomorrow night as part of an important and rare exhibition.

And so this ranks as one of our biggest ever art crimes.

The question is - why?

They must have been stolen to order. Surely. You can't steal two Lindauers and expect to flog them off easily on the black market. You'd be dobbed in, wouldn't you.

But if they've been stolen to order, who wants them? And why?

And what will they do with them? You can't display them. It would be hard to on-sell them.

You could move them offshore, i guess?

But if you've got the money and expertise to do that, then you probably could have bought them outright - $350,000 to $400,000 each?

What is does reveal, that we can be a bit Kiwi about this sort of thing, can't we?

That these two paintings hung in the street-front window of an art gallery.....well, that was tempting fate, wasn't it?

Two prized works of huge importance to New Zealand, significant works that are an integral part of this country's art history.....and we hung them in a shop window. No security and no alarm it seems, either.

A man who worked in a bar across the road called police. He said someone had driven into the front of the art gallery across the road and they might want to check it out.

They'd left the ute there, stuck in the shop window, engine still running and escaped in another vehicle.

It's the simplicity of this theft that makes it so galling.

It's just a bit Kiwi.....a little bit "she'll be right" when it comes to security....and now potentially we've lost two very important artworks. That's the greatest tragedy.