A man posing as an earthquake contractor will appear in court
tomorrow accused of raiding red-zoned houses in the hard-hit
eastern suburbs of Christchurch.
The 43-year-old wore a high-visibility vest emblazoned with a
contracting firm's name to steal hot water cylinders from the
abandoned quake-damaged properties, according to police.
He faces 10 charges of burglary which are alleged to have
occurred between January 7 and January 14 at properties in
the suburbs of Avondale and Burwood.
Opportunistic thieves have targeted quake-hit homes since the
first big shake of September 2010, which sparked the
Canterbury earthquake sequence.
Hot water cylinders containing copper piping have been highly
sought for their value to scrap metal dealers.
Within six weeks of the magnitude-7.1 jolt of September 4,
2010, more than 30 cylinder thefts were reported to
The latest alleged offender, who will appear from custody at
Christchurch District Court tomorrow, was arrested on January
14 after a nearby resident noticed his activities and phoned
It is alleged the man removed the hot water cylinders along
with tapware and other items in an attempt to recover scrap
"This alleged offender has gone to considerable lengths to
try to conceal his activities," said sergeant Dave Knowles of
"This included wearing a high-visibility vest with the name
of a contracting firm on it, and hanging black material over
a window at one address to block the view from the street."
Mr Knowles said all the houses the man is accused of stealing
from are in red-zoned areas, abandoned and under Canterbury
Earthquake Recovery Authority ownership.
The resident who reported the "suspicious activity" did the
right thing, said Mr Knowles, who warned that a high-vis vest
was "no guarantee that a contractor is genuine".
"If people have any doubts they should not hesitate to ask
questions, check with the company and if they remain
suspicious - contact police as soon as possible," he said.