Builders charged after theft

A new subcontractor to one of Canterbury's biggest building firms has been charged with stealing roofs about to be installed on homes at a new subdivision.

First Fit Fixers director Hayden Reginald Van Dijk, 34, and one of his employees are accused of taking the building materials, worth $8000 and owned by Wellbuilt Homes and Wilson Built NZ, from two sites at Rosemerryn in Lincoln a fortnight ago.

Both men have appeared in court charged with burglary.

The Press understands First Fit Fixers is contracted to one of the region's biggest building firms.

Police say theft within the industry is a growing trend.

Security guards stationed on sites during the hours of darkness were an option.

"I'm quite sure we've got an element of more organisation emerging [among thieves] . . . exploiting what is a valuable commodity in the building catchment," Detective Senior Sergeant Corrie Parnell said.

"It [the stolen property] would have to be going back into the industry - you've got to have a market, it's as simple as that."

Construction sites and red-zoned properties were all under threat from "full-scale burglaries", Parnell said.

Developers spoken to by The Press said thefts were a concern, but not a major problem.

However, police said they were not on the front line and builders and contractors were not reporting a lot of what happened.

"We don't have the resources to be out there 24/7 sitting on subdivision sites," Parnell said. "We are really only as good as the eyes and the ears on the ground."

Canterbury Registered Master Builders' Association president Clive Barrington said theft within the industry was a "serious issue" that cost builders huge amounts of money in lost time, equipment and building materials.

The number of thefts was directly linked to the growth in the building and construction industry since the earthquakes, he said.

"It's like a gold-rush. People come from all over the place . . . and of course that includes more good people and more bad people."

It was up to the industry to make sure sites were secure and building materials not brought in too early, Barrington said.

Mike Greer, owner of Mike Greer Homes, said his company had boosted its security - installing cameras and employing regular security patrols.

Hughes Development marketing manager Bruce Harvey said he had been in the industry 30 years and theft was no worse now than it was when he first started.

However, after recent thefts and vandalism in Lincoln the company was considering employing a security guard to monitor its new Faringdon subdivision in Rolleston at night.

The Press