''Gut-wrenching'' — that's how the manager of a Paihia store describes a ram raid on his business early yesterday.
Around 3.45am on Monday a ute was used to smash through a side wall of Rip Curl, a sportswear shop on Williams Rd, before the offender made off with about 60 watches worth up to $10,000.
CCTV footage showed a white flat-deck ute reversing down a pedestrian walkway next to the store, turning sharply — scraping the building opposite in the process — then ramming the store's side wall up to four times.
The ute eventually broke through a ranchslider and an internal wall, making enough of a gap for the thief to squeeze through. Part of a concrete block wall was also damaged.
Store manager Mark Ashton said the offender used a crowbar to smash a display cabinet and grabbed about 60 Rip Curl-branded watches retailing at $100-$350 each.
In total the watches were worth up to $10,000 but the cost of repairs was likely to be higher.
''It just pisses me off. It's gut-wrenching, especially in a small community like this. I'd hazard a guess they're not from Paihia but from this area,'' he said.
The store, which was closed yesterday, was insured but the company still had to pay the excess. Given that it was the fourth break-in in just over three years, the insurance premiums were likely to go up as well.
In the first two burglaries, the thieves smashed the front window. The third time they couldn't get through a newly installed security gate so they raided a another store a few doors up instead.
At least two other stores on Williams Rd had been targeted repeatedly, always for watches, Ashton said.
Constable Ray Iwashita of Mid North police said inquiries were continuing, as was the job of searching through the town's CCTV camera footage.
So far police had ascertained the ute entered Paihia from the south shortly before the raid. A forensic officer had also examined the scene early yesterday.
Iwashita urged anyone with information about the raid, or who had seen a white ute driving around Paihia around 3.30-4.30am on Monday, to call Kerikeri police on (09) 407 9211 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111. People should also report any suspicious offers of Rip Curl watches.
Monday's incident was the third ram-raid in Northland since Friday, when a stolen vehicle was used to smash through the front doors of GAS Tikipunga about 4.05am then Parua Bay Four Square at 4.33am.
The damage is expected to cost many thousands of dollars to repair but nothing was taken from the service station and only a few items were stolen from the grocery store.
In February a stolen Wrangler Jeep was used in a ram-raid at Global Diamonds in central Whangārei which netted pendants, watches and coins.
Four people have been arrested in relation to that incident. Luke Gurnick, 17, of Otaika, Hayden Jones, 21, of Kamo, Keeley Scott, of Mangonui, and Jake Gent, of Nukutawhiti, are all due back in court later this month.