Two men arrested for allegedly stealing emergency power generators in earthquake-struck Christchurch have appeared in court.

The two men - 23-year-old Owen Anthony Jackson, a fisherman and Jed Wilson-Calver, 22, unemployed - were last night arrested after allegedly stealing three $6000 emergency power generators.

The generators, donated by TelstraClear, were being used to power roadside cabinets fed up to 500 landline and broadband customers.

Both were denied bail and remanded in custody to reappear on March 28.

Detective Superintendent Peter Read said the thefts were "disgraceful".

"When everyone's hurting, they don't actually need this extra aggravation from these people.

"It's not only insulting to the Canterbury public of which they're supposed to be a part of, but it is hindering recovery operations and emergency services."

The two skin-headed men waved offensive hand gestures at photographers and court staff and media present in a makeshift courtroom at the Christchurch Police Station.

Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said they would rather be focusing on finding the missing and supporting the injured and homeless but police will take a hard line against thefts, looting and profiteering.

Meanwhile, at a media conference Superintendent Dave Cliff tsaid police patrols were being ramped up to stop scammers, burglars and disorderly drunks plaguing the streets of Christchurch.

"Sadly on a general policing front we're still continuing to see disorder. Drunk disorder in particular. We're still arresting burglars. Call police if you're seeing anything."

Many criminals had been crossing police cordons and pretending to be earthquake relief officials, he says.

He asked residents to check the identity of anyone claiming to be an official.