A trio of would-be robbers trying to nick a swathe of smartphones saw their plans go up in smoke after triggering a fog cannon.
After busting in a window at a Spark store in Silverdale arouund 3am on Thursday morning, the group made a speedy - and empty-handed exit.
CCTV footage provided by police shows the suspects entering the store, bursting in through a smashed window and then running out of frame.
Seconds later the trio appear again, running away from plumes of smoke filling the shop.
Orewa sergeant Nick Herd said Spark Silverdale had a fog cannon installed after previous burglars stole stock from the shop.
The motion-sensor-activated machine emitted smoke for up to 15 minutes, something which was harmless but discombobulating for intruders.
"It runs on the principle of 'if you can't see it, you can't steal it'," he said.
"It gives the burglars a hell of a scare. They don't necessarily know what it is when it starts emitting."
The box was tamper-proof and once it had been activated it was too hard to see what was going on to turn it off again.
Businesses could choose whether or not they thought it was worth the cost of installing a fog cannon, Herd said.
"I think you can see from the video how effective it is for a business."
Rodney Police are still looking for the trio in the video, and Herd said they were currently looking at forensic evidence from an abandoned car found nearby.
Any nominations or suspicious vehicles seen in the Millwater or Silverdale area in the early hours of Thursday morning should be reported Sergeant Herd at the Orewa Police Station on 09 426 4555.