Far North criminals are getting bolder by the day because they know there's little risk of being caught, a Kaitaia farmer and retailer says.
Ian Walker said his farm manager looked up from milking on Tuesday to see the lights of his nearby ute switched on and a man in the driver's seat all set to take off.
The manager ran to the vehicle shouting and the would-be thief bolted.
"He would have had to come up our 500m driveway in plain view of three houses, to get to the ute," Mr Walker said.
"And my manager was just 30m away.
"So, incredibly cheeky, incredibly brazen. A lot of these criminals just think they can get away with everything these days. It's a symptom of the society we're living in and the policing we're getting."
Mr Walker has spoken out before about police staffing levels in Kaitaia.
After a series of smash and grabs at his electronics store, the glazier would usually have been and replaced the window by the time police arrived, he said.
"Business people and the council have had to fund expensive security surveillance systems because there's no police presence, especially at night," Mr Walker said.
The police have recently seconded six more police officers to Kaitaia to help local police get on top of a backlog of cases, including five homicides since January.
But Mr Walker said a tragic incident this week showed little had changed.
Police took a 111 call on Tuesday night about a man seen acting strangely at a local bridge. But a second emergency call came in moments later about a family violence incident and the on-call officers were told to prioritise that.
When they reached the bridge 40 minutes later, the man was found dead.
"I certainly don't want to criticise our local police.
"I think they're up against it. They are split in all sorts of directions, trying to do the job, but they're just too stretched, and they need more resource," Mr Walker said.