Two Whangarei shopkeepers are confident the community will help them identify a trio of youths who tried to escape with baskets full of meat on Monday.
Co-owners Steve Boobyer and Harley Roulston were working in the store on Kiripaka Road when three young men came in about 5.30pm with hoods on and went straight for the meat.
"I looked up as the other guy was leaving ... just saw one guy with a hood on pulled tight - you could just see his eyes," Mr Roulston said.
"I thought 'oh heck what's this guy up to?' ... I didn't realise all three guys were in there."
Mr Roulston stepped in and managed to tear a basket out of one of the youth's hands, which contained more than $100 in meat packs.
He said he was not interested in trying to detain or hold on to the offenders themselves.
"It's far too dangerous trying to play that game of taking on people - you're outnumbered to start with and that's before you know if they've got anything on them," he said.
"There's too many instances right around the country with people attacking shopkeepers even unprovoked, so the last thing you want to do is actually provoke them - I'd rather stop the product from leaving."
Mr Boobyer agreed, saying that they both have a family to go home to at night, and said that in the past when similar things have happened the community has stepped up.
"In the past if we've ever had any trouble, we've put it on Facebook and we normally have them within half an hour to an hour," Mr Boobyer said.
"They were young kids - big boys, fit boys - bloody fast - there's no way a 37-year-old in his gumboots is going to catch them running up the street.
"We're well-known and well-liked and people know in Whangarei that we don't put up with this ... we're pretty active in catching them and we have done in the past.
"You've got to put a stop to it - it's not on."
Anyone with information can contact Whangarei Police on 09 430 4500, or information can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.