Northland police are urging thieves who ram-raided a Paparoa petrol station and stole a poppy donation basket, 45 minutes after Anzac Day came to an end, to "have some mana and come forward".
Four thieves were unable to get their hands on the cigarettes locked in a cabinet at the Paparoa Gas Station, so instead, they ran off with the RSA's Poppy Day donation bucket.
Northland police are investigating the theft which happened around 12.55am on Wednesday morning when a car was driven through the front of the petrol station.
A forensic examination was carried out by police at the scene, while the offending vehicle was towed out of the petrol station.
"To try and smash into a business and take someone’s livelihood is bad enough, but here we have offenders who have no respect whatsoever - even for our veterans and I would go so far as to say it is just downright despicable," Inspector Justin Rogers from Northland police says.
"I would appeal to the people involved; have some mana and come forward.
"You will be caught and you have been caught on camera, get yourself some form of dignity while you still can and do the decent thing and give yourself up" said Mr Rogers.
Two members of the public have offered generous donations of $100 and $250 after they watched the story which aired last night on TV1's Seven Sharp.
An outraged public have also taken to Facebook to comment on the "selfish" crime, with some labelling the thieves as "scum."
"Steeling from those that secured our freedom," Corie Linnell wrote.
"When the filthy scum bags get caught, they should be stuck on a busy corner with a sign saying I ripped off the old service vets who fought for my freedom."
Erin Wi wrote: "Lock them up and throw away the key."