A Tauranga charity is baffled by the "mean-spirited" theft of its large driveway gates.
When staff and volunteers of the Cameron Rd St Vincent de Paul Society shop left on Tuesday night, they closed, chained and padlocked the pair of metal farm-style gates at the back delivery entrance as usual, area manager Lorna Edlin said.
When they returned the next morning the 1m-high metal gates - 1m and 3m wide respectively - had vanished.
Staff reviewed their security camera footage but the angle only captured a sliver of the action, which happened between 11pm and midnight. Only a hand was recorded.
Staff member Sonje Steel was one of the first in and thought it was a joke or a prank.
The charity's Western Bay president Tony Rogers thought the thieves had used a big vehicle and chain to yank the bolted hinges off-kilter so the gate could be lifted off.
"It just seems so mean-spirited to steal from a charity. That's money that will now not go to someone who is needy."
The charity was entering its busiest period of the year in the lead-up to Christmas.
The security gates - there to stop people dumping rubbish at the back door and for the safety of staff and volunteers - would have to be replaced for insurance purposes and would likely set the charity back hundreds of dollars.
The St Vincent de Paul Society has op shops in Cameron Rd, Greerton, Mt Maunganui and Katikati. It uses income from the shops to provide financial aid to people in need.
Edlin said that might be paying for a vehicle warrant, rental bond, or for someone to travel to the South Island for a funeral.
She hoped someone might have seen the gates being driven away, or might know where they had ended up.
Police confirmed the theft had been reported.
The Vinnies in the Western Bay
- Op shops in Cameron Rd, Greerton, Mt Maunganui and Katikati
- More than 200 volunteers across the district
- Give financial aid to people in need via small grants
- Celebrating 150 years in New Zealand this year