Thieves who stole 17.6 tons of ham and bacon from a warehouse in Australia left behind a message taunting the business just weeks before the holiday season.

"Thanks ... Merry Christmas," the crooks daubed on a wall of the Zammit Hand and Bacon curers warehouse in suburban Sydney as they made off with their haul.

Owner Anthony Zammit said that when he arrived for work Monday he found a hole in a wall of the building where the thieves appeared to have entered. The stolen meat was worth up to $88,000, he said.

It appeared the thieves had manhandled the meat — several fully loaded pallets worth of it — through the hole and onto a refrigerated truck, local media reported.

Police Inspector Rodney Ormes said the crime should not be taken lightly. "You're talking about a business that's been a victim of a serious crime, it's lost a significant amount of Christmas stock."

Zammit said he was offering a $4,420 reward for anyone who helped to recover the meat, and that his company would work overtime to make sure all its Christmas orders were filled.

"We're working 24 hours a day, seven days a week and (have) put on extra staff," he said. 'We won't let anyone down.'