Early surprise as police sweep across Christchurch
A scaffolder working on the central Christchurch rebuild was ''helping himself to a joint'' when the police gave him an early-morning wake-up call.
District commander Superintendent Gary Knowles said dozens of criminals woke to police about 5.30am today as part of a citywide operation targeting outstanding warrants.
Police worked through 150 active arrest warrants, largely for offenders who had failed to appear in court for offences ranging from unpaid fines to serious assaults, he said.
One Hornby man in his 30s who got an early-morning call from police for failing to appear on court on a minor driving charge now faced cultivation charges after police found 12 cannabis plants in his house.
''He was helping himself to a joint [when police arrived],'' Knowles said.
Police could smell the cannabis before entering the home, he said.
The man, who was a scaffolder in the red zone, would face charges, along with another scaffolder at the property, he said.
In another door-knock, a man in his 20s wanted on a minor charge tried fleeing from police through a toilet window, but he was met by police outside.
About 70 police officers were involved in the operation, Knowles said.
''This operation is about holding offenders accountable to the community,'' he said.
''Each one of these offenders represents a potential criminal threat to the people of Christchurch and I make no apologies about taking action to bring them to justice.
''Police are targeting outstanding warrants all the time, but an operation like this is a chance to send a clear message to offenders: if you have an outstanding warrant, do something about it before you get a knock on the door.''
Police started with 350 active warrants, but of those, 200 people were found to be living overseas, he said.
''Some of those offshore go back to the 1980s. Some are for minor crimes, some are for serious fines,'' he said.
''We will be working with immigration and customs so we can pick them up at the border when they come back into the country.''
By noon, about 30 people had been arrested.
''The cells are full and we will continue through the day. It's been challenging [for the courts], but we gave them lots of notice,'' Knowles said.
- © Fairfax NZ News