Residents of Christchurch are being encouraged to be cautious and vigilant following reports of people impersonating officials.

Police have received reports of individuals posing as EQC staff members going door-to-door asking questions about electronic equipment inside the houses, and people in high visibility vests on properties who disappear quickly when they realise they have been seen.

There have also been reports of at least two people of Australian nationality presenting themselves to the fire service as both Urban Search and Rescue and Disaster Victim Identification staff. Enquiries showed these people are not credited to either role.

"Whether the goal for these people is for criminal reasons of out of ghoulish curiosity it is not acceptable," Superintendent Russell Gibson said. "Even if these people are trying to find a means to be helpful in some way, it may be well intended but it is misguided. We have not given up hope of finding people alive which means time is of the essence and the actions of these individuals are unhelpful to the search and rescue process."

Any officials working in Christchurch should be carrying official identification and will not be offended if they are asked to show ID. Later today 100 structural assessment teams will be going door-to-door in various suburbs and all will be carrying official ID.

- NZHERALD STAFF