The Grinch who stole Christmas has outdone himself this year and gone and stolen Santa as well.
If it wasn't the Grinch from the famous children's book by Dr Seuss, someone else whose heart was also "two and half times too small" must have taken the super-sized Santa from his spot on the roof of the Sabai Thai restaurant on Bank St in Whangarei.
When Ood Sayer arrived at work yesterday morning she was shocked to see Santa missing from his big chair on the parapet.
Staff checked he wasn't stuck in the chimney - or in this case the extractor vent - or lying on the roof, having perhaps fallen backwards during a particularly strenuous "ho-ho-ho".
Nor were there any signs Santa had decided Christmas was over and hitched a ride back to the North Pole - no sleigh skid marks or reindeer do-dos to be seen anywhere.
The theft would have required someone climbing onto the roof and unshackling the cumbersome, robustly secured mannequin.
"We want Santa back," said Whangarei businessman Carl Sayer, whose wife owns the restaurant.
The couple had bought the mannequin and Santa suit and kitted it out "with some really good boots".
"We'd done a real good job of him. He was well tied down and was built to last," Mr Sayer said.
"We put him up on November 22 and the kids going to school up the road loved seeing him up there. It really added a Christmas feel to this end of town."
Mr Sayer believes the thieves had a getaway vehicle.
"You wouldn't walk up the road with him, he was uncomfortable to carry. You had to put him over your shoulder, like a sack."
Mr Sayer said only two days ago his daughter had asked how long Santa would stay on the roof, and the family decided he could see the New Year in from his view along Bank St and across the road to MacDonalds.
Now the Sayers are hoping someone in the vicinity on Thursday night might have seen the Christmas Grinch and his mates at work.
Whangarei Police are interested in hearing from anyone with information about a Mr Claus moving into their neighbourhood a few days after Christmas.
In the meantime, they're on the lookout for a missing person of solid build, with a big white beard and wearing a bright red suit.