Christchurch earthquake: Facebook cracks theft case

By Chloe Johnson

Ben and Sophia-Lee Levy with 9 week old son Aiden return to their shattered and robbed Mt Pleasant home. Photo / David Alexander
Ben and Sophia-Lee Levy with 9 week old son Aiden return to their shattered and robbed Mt Pleasant home. Photo / David Alexander

When elite lingerie designer Sophia Lee Levy discovered her crumbling abandoned home in Christchurch had been robbed, she turned to Facebook to find the culprits.

Almost two weeks after Levy fled her Mt Pleasant home with her 9-week-old son wrapped in her dressing gown, thieves stole about $50,000 worth of lingerie products, designs, fabrics and props. They also took all her son's toys.

"They stole everything of my business, every fabric, every button as well as all my stock," Levy said. "I don't know what you need with a light-up bra at a time like this."

According to Levy, her creations, which have been modelled by celebrity Playboy girls and featured in Outrageous Fortune, were worth about $50,000.

She reported the theft to police but also used Facebook to try to find the thieves.

"We posted it at 11am on Sunday and people copied it onto their walls. It just spread. We had a confession in under an hour," she said.

The confession was from someone she knew. "It was his family members - the mother, the son and his girlfriend.

"I have given [the mother] a cup of tea before and even gave her tomatoes to take home from my organic garden."

Levy's husband, mother and mother-in-law went to the culprits' house with a police officer to retrieve her possessions.

"I couldn't face them so I stayed with my son in the car. If I had have looked her in the eye I would have lost it."

Levy said her life had been a complete mess since the earthquake hit. She is still haunted by memories of the night she fled her house to a camp set up at Mt Pleasant School.

"A lot of children whose parents hadn't come to claim them were still crying at 11 that night.

"There must have been about 300 people there. We were allowed one glass of water, one sausage and one slice of bread. It felt like I was in a war zone.

"My life is a mess, it's all over the place. We are living out of a suitcase and a couple of boxes."

Levy was still waiting to hear from police about her complaint but had not decided whether to press charges.

"I think it will be a good idea because what has happened is very serious.

"People who do things like that have no conscience and should have to deal with that and take it on the chin."

Police sergeant Gary Manch said they had hundreds of complaints in the system and Levy's would be dealt with.

"Any complaints will be followed up in due course, but we are still working in a national emergency situation.

"It sounds like the [accompanying] police officer dealt with it and if she wants to [press charges] she needs to contact her local office."

- Herald on Sunday

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