A Brighton couple have been left distraught and in tears after hours of toil were ruined by a brazen theft during the middle of the night.
When Kim and Diane Rapley woke yesterday morning, they were expecting to see their hard work from the night before paying off as newly planted natives soaked up the overnight rain.
Instead, they woke up to a bare patch of dirt, their gate left open and about 120 of their plants uprooted and stolen without a trace from their Taieri Mouth Rd property.
At some point between 8pm on Tuesday and 7am on Wednesday someone had entered their property and taken the assortment of native plants.
''We finished planting them around 8pm last night and Diane took the dogs over there this morning about 7.30am and she came back in and just started crying, saying they were all gone.
''They're pretty low-life sort of people who would have done that,'' Mr Rapley said.
While he had no idea who had taken the plants or why, it was obvious the raid had been pre-planned.
''It was pitch black and thunderstorms and they left no trace, I'm a deerstalker and I would usually expect to find marks or something. But there was nothing.''
The couple were sleeping only about 50m away from where the plants were taken and a neighbour about 20m away heard nothing.
About $1800 had been spent on the plants but it was not the monetary value the couple were concerned about.
''I want to know who did it and I want them to put the plants back. What about the cost of our time we've put into planting and doing the right thing,'' he said.
He had now installed a camera and the gate would be locked overnight to ensure there was no repeat.
Constable Fred Jansen, of Green Island, said police wanted to hear from anyone who noticed any suspicious activity in the area overnight.
Similarly, police wanted to hear from anyone who noticed a large number of young native plants which had suddenly appeared in an unusual area.
Anyone with information could call the Green Island police station.