A 2-metre-tall bronze gnome standing in front of his office door was the last thing Neil Arnold thought he'd find on his way to work this morning.
However, when he parked his car around 8.30am and started walking towards his Glen Eden Salvation Army office, the large gnome was what he found.
"I got out of the car and I thought someone was playing some sort of joke with a gnome standing at the front door," he told the Herald.
"When I got closer I thought, hang on, it looks like the one that was stolen yesterday."
The $55,000 sculpture, named Thinker, by renowned artist Gregor Kregar was stolen from outside the Gow Langsford Gallery around midnight on Christmas Day.
Staff first discovered the statue was stolen on Saturday after a horrified director Gary Langsford drove past, noticing it missing.
Yesterday, the gallery released images of three thieves in high-vis vests who spent two hours removing the gnome from its base before stealing it.
Arnold said as he walked towards the gnome this morning he discovered it had a note on it asking for it to be returned to the gallery from which it was taken.
"My first thought was this was kind of weird, why leave it here? It looks like they've handled with care where they put it, they didn't just dump it," he said.
The business administrator decided to phone police after a quick Google search, confirming to himself it was the stolen gnome.
Anna Jackson, director of Gow Langsford Gallery, told the Herald they received a call from police to report the statue had been found this morning.
"Staff at the Salvation Army called police when they turned up to work about 9am," she said.
"When I got here the police were doing fingerprints and things. We are now allowed to take him home."
Jackson said Thinker will be cleaned and polished before being put on show in the Lorne St Gow Langsford Gallery for members of the public to see him.
Waitemata Police detective senior sergeant Roger Small said the theft was one of the more bizarre thefts he's heard of.
"It's not something that's exactly common, but we're very glad this artwork can now be returned to the gallery," he said.
Police will be assessing CCTV footage and examining the sculpture to try to find those who may have been responsible for taking it.