Gas hot water units targeted by thieves

This gas hot water unit was stolen from a Selwyn home, leaving the owner without hot water....
This gas hot water unit was stolen from a Selwyn home, leaving the owner without hot water. Photos: Supplied
Thieves are stealing gas hot water systems from the exterior of Canterbury homes and businesses, causing dangerous gas leaks.

There has been a recent spike in the thefts, particularly across Lincoln and Prebbleton, with police being called to several incidents a week.

“Timings tend to be during the hours of darkness and some victims have been targeted while they have been at home,” Constable Ben Rutherford said.

Thieves generally removed the gas hot water systems – which are usually located in unsecured cabinets on the external walls of buildings – in a matter of minutes  either by hand or with basic tools.

Rutherford said the units cost about $1800 each to buy and install. It is believed the thieves are using the units at other dwellings, rather than breaking them down to sell for scrap.

Constable Ben Rutherford. Photo: Star News
Constable Ben Rutherford. Photo: Star News
“The hot water units are able to be reinstalled easily so can be sold second-hand quickly,” Rutherford said.

Police sometimes found the units removed with the gas still on, posing a risk to occupiers of the targeted homes and businesses. He advised anyone who has had their hot water unit stolen to turn the gas off immediately and call 111 or 105 to report the theft.

They should also phone a qualified gas fitter/plumber to make sure there was no risk of a gas leak or explosion.

He said owners of residential and commercial buildings fitted with the units should take preventative measures, such as ensuring the cabinet is secured with additional locks and installing CCTV cameras and good exterior lighting.

“Doing anything that will take the offenders longer to remove the unit will deter them and prevent people in our communities becoming victims,” Rutherford said.

He recommended securing the unit to the wall of the house with extra bolts and placing large items in front of the cabinet to make it difficult to open.

Rutherford encouraged people to report any suspicious activity and keep an eye on each other’s properties.

He said anyone who sees a unit for sale on Facebook marketplace, Trade Me or other online platforms should report it to police if the listing looks suspicious.

“Police are continuing to conduct high-visibility patrols in areas which have been targeted when time and resourcing allows to deter any future thefts,” Rutherford said.
 

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