An eco-house builder had an entire wall stolen from a partly-built new home in a suspected case of industrial espionage.
Burglars forced entry into the True Green Homes property outside Christchurch overnight Monday and sliced precise cuts into the walls.
They ripped out insulation, tore into cavities, and stole a fully-constructed wall from the lounge.
Police are investigating the bizarre and brazen theft that has left the housebuilders bewildered.
"We believe it was definitely someone in the industry who wants to know more about what we're doing," True Green Homes general manager Greg Thomson told APNZ yesterday.
The Christchurch-based firm say they are the first in New Zealand to use German-originated panelised low-energy technology to deliver healthy homes at a low cost.
Using wool insulation and an air sealing building technique, they claim up to a 90 per cent reduction in heat loss when compared to a conventional home.
The company, which pre-fabricates walls in a factory before craning them on site, has built homes in Christchurch, Queenstown and Auckland, and is building its sixth home in Prebbleton, on the southern outskirts of Christchurch.
The build is in its fourth week and was progressing to plan until lead builder Ingo True turned up to work at 7.30am yesterday morning and found something awry.
He initially phoned his workshop manager to accuse him of forgetting to build a wall, but soon suspected foul play.
"We checked with our sub trades - nothing. We talked to neighbours who didn't see anything," Mr Thomson said.
"We phoned police and said someone had pinched a wall. They were quite amused, saying it was usually tools or product being taken from site, not a whole wall."
A police spokeswoman confirmed a complaint was received about a suspected burglary and that it is "currently being assessed for further investigation".
The missing wall would've required four strong men to lift, the builders say.
Almost $50,000 worth of new windows lying on site were left untouched.
Mr Thomson says he is left with no doubt they were targeted by construction industry rivals.
"They've done their homework on us. There's no doubt they were looking at our IP (intellectual property)," he said.
"We're in shock. Why wouldn't they just come talk to us and ask.
"We are extremely open to educating other builders and working with them if they would like to know more about this product."
The theft has set back construction work a couple of days.