Police are warning they'll come down hard on people buying and selling stolen tobacco products after much of a haul worth hundreds of thousands of dollars was sold on social media.
The warning comes as violent robberies increase and fuel the tobacco black market.
"It's an offense if you buy stolen products. Like, if a deal is too good to be true, it is too good to be true," said Inspector Bronwyn Marshall of Wellington Police.
The product usually ends up overseas, but in a case that's seen four men in the Hutt Valley District Court, most of the stolen goods were sold locally on social media.
Workers at the Imperial Tobacco factory in Petone have admitted stealing tobacco products.
The tobacco wasn't taken in a robbery, but in an inside job by 10 staff members and an associate.
Yesterday, four of those 10 appeared in court.
Two staff members have admitted stealing around $120,000 worth of products each.
"CCTV footage shows the defendants working together to remove a large number of sports bags full of tobacco products from the site," a police officer told the court.
Three workers were caught on CCTV smuggling the tobacco out in black bags. One was seen making inserts into bags and hallowing out a loaf of bread to hide the product.
Another is a security guard who helped get the product out of the factory.
The Imperial Tobacco factory has been labelled a good employer in the past and jobs there are sought after.
Those who appeared yesterday will be sentenced in November.
Two other members of the group, including another security guard, have name suppression.