Handheld radios - vital to the lifesaving work of lifeguards at Whangarei Heads Ocean Beach - have been stolen in a raid on the clubhouse.
Club president Lindsay Hill said six Motorola radios in a charging dock, worth about $12,000, have been taken in the Saturday night burglary.
It was unlikely the radios, which keep lifeguards linked to each other and also the team at a regional communications centre in Auckland, would be replaced by the end of the season.
Lifeguards patrol beaches around Northland including Ocean Beach until Easter Monday when the flags will come down.
Mr Hill said while insurance would cover about $11,000 it was a downer on what had been a great season.
"It's the sense of invasion and the fact we won't have them for the last few weeks of patrols. It's a slap in the face by people who don't appreciate the work we do."
He said the radios were programmed for such specific use they would be of little use to anyone else. Guards could talk to each other and the radios were linked to the main centre in Auckland and allowed guards to call for ambulance help as cellphone coverage was not reliable.
The thieves had broken in and activated the alarm on the new clubhouse which was finished to coincide with the start of the summer season.
He urged anyone who may be offered the radios for sale to contact police who were investigating the theft.