Scrap metal in crims' sights

By Jarrod Booker

Risk of unstable buildings not enough to deter criminals from hitting Christchurch's suburban red zones.

Destroyed buildings in the CBD after the second big earthquake.  Photo / Brett Phibbs
Destroyed buildings in the CBD after the second big earthquake. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Burglars targeting lucrative scrap metal in Canterbury are most likely to strike in February, on a Tuesday night, in Christchurch's most economically deprived eastern suburbs, police figures show.

While iPods, iPads, mobile phones and gaming consoles are still popular targets for burglars, the hot items in recent times have been scrap metal, including hot water cylinders, copper and wire - which can fetch good prices.

"Somebody goes into a house, they steal a hot water cylinder and they might only get $120 or $160 for the thing, but when they cut the pipes they don't turn the water off, they tear the electrics out, and suddenly you have got water all through the house, and the cost of repairing the damage is huge compared to the cost of replacing a cylinder," says Detective Senior Sergeant John Rae.

"Over a two-month period last year we had over $200,000 worth of copper cabling stolen. We locked up four offenders for quite major copper theft, and none of it was the $200,000 worth - it was over and above ... We are working with second-hand dealers a lot more."

Mr Rae says thieves are now prepared to steal copper spouting even from churches or hospitals.

The numbers

Between January 1 and June 1, 2012, in Canterbury:
931 vehicles reported stolen, including:
283 Nissans (76.3 per cent recovered),
118 Toyotas (61 per cent recovered)
99 Subarus (65.3 per cent recovered)
595 of the 931 have been recovered (63.9 per cent)
(Vehicle figure does not include thefts of 76 motorcycles, 4 farm bikes and 73 trailers).

The series

Monday Auckland City
Tuesday Waikato and Bay of Plenty
Wednesday Waitemata
Yesterday Manukau
Today Christchurch.

- NZ Herald

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