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Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Earthquake looters: Three homes hit, police investigating

Melissa and Matt Mill's home was burgled after they evacuated this morning. Photo/supplied.
Melissa and Matt Mill's home was burgled after they evacuated this morning. Photo/supplied.

• Police are looking for a silver Mazda BT50, registration EPP79 with black roof racks. Contact the Christchurch police immediately on 03 363 7400.

Police are investigating three burglaries reported in the aftermath of this morning's massive earthquake.

Hundreds of Christchurch residents fled their homes as a tsunami warning was issued in the early hours of the morning.

As of 9am Christchurch police had received three reports of burglaries, which Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price said "appear to have occurred while people were evacuated following the earthquakes".

"Police will investigate each report as usual and are absolutely confident we can deal with normal crime as well as the earthquake response and reassurance," Price told the Herald.

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The Herald revealed that Melissa Mill and her husband Matt arrived home about five hours after fleeing their New Brighton home to find it ransacked.

The couple have two daughters and the youngest has muscular dystrophy.

"That's why we left, because we thought it was safer for her if anything happened, like if there was a tsunami," Mill told the Herald.

The family left their Bower Ave home at 2am and returned five hours later to find it ransacked.

"We came up the driveway and saw the work truck was gone," she said.

"Then we saw the front door was open, the side door, the garage door and the sleepout."

The truck and $5000 hearing device relied upon by their disabled 12-year-old daughter were stolen, as well as their television and an Xbox.

"I feel sick," she said.

"I feel absolutely devastated."

She said police had been alerted but due to the ongoing earthquake situation they said it could be two days before anyone could get to the home.

"They have been through everything," Mill said.

"It's really horrid. We took our family away to be safe and came back to all of this... it's just devastating."

Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price said: "If people witness crime or are concerned about suspicious behaviour we encourage them to follow the normal processes and contact police immediately."

"It is extremely disappointing that in a time when people are facing a traumatic event, others decide to take advantage like this."

He said the fear of being looted should not trump personal safety when it came to returning home.

"We understand people may have concerns about the security of their homes following evacuations, but it is important people do not return until it is made clear by the appropriate authorities it is safe to do so," Price advised.

Chris Lynch of Newstalk ZB spoke to two people who's homes were looted as they evacuated the area.

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