A group allegedly involved in a "well-organised burglary operation" concocted a bogus fundraising campaign to rip off Christchurch residents.
Police have arrested seven people, aged between 13 and 30, in the last fortnight that they believe have broken into a number of homes across the city.
The group ripped off more than 20 homes in the last month, targeting televisions, laptops and other electronic items, and jewellery.
In the latest incident, a woman arrived home to find two youths in the driveway of her Phillipstown property about 5.30pm yesterday.
Police were called and two males, aged 17 and 15, were arrested a short time later in the grounds of Linwood College. Both were charged with burglary and remanded on bail when they appeared in court today.
A 14-year old male was also arrested yesterday as a result of fingerprint identification. He appeared in court today on 14 charges of burglary. He was remanded on bail.
On Tuesday, police raided an address in Hampshire St and found a substantial amount of stolen property. A 30-year old Christchurch man was charged with receiving stolen property and cannabis-related charges. He was remanded on bail during a court appearance the same day.
A 21-year old Christchurch man was arrested last week and remanded in custody after appearing on seven burglary charges.
Police have also arrested a 13-year old, who has been referred to police youth services, and a 16-year old male in connection with their investigation.
Detective Senior Sergeant Corrie Parnell said the group generally posed as young people selling raffle tickets for fundraising, and knocked on doors to see whether occupants were home. They usually operated between 9am and 3pm when many residents were at work.
"This appears to be a well-organised burglary operation. We believe it has been continuing for some weeks, and it's likely there are older individuals who are organising the group."
Police had identified at least 21 burglaries the alleged offenders have committed across the city in suburbs including Northwood, Papanui, Phillipstown and Bishopdale.
"It's likely that the total number of offences is much greater - and we are continuing our inquiries to link these and other offenders to burglaries," Parnell said.
Investigators were trying to identify other offenders.
"We have recovered a quantity of stolen property already but will also be making every effort to locate further property stolen in these burglaries - and to return it to the rightful owners wherever possible," Parnell said.
"It's timely to remind people to make sure their dwellings are well secured whenever they are not present.
"Our message to residents across the city is to be alert for signs of suspicious activity - including unknown people making door-to-door calls.
"If you have any doubts about people calling at your home, whether they're contractors, salespeople or kids selling raffle tickets - always ask for identification.''
Anyone with information is asked to call Christchurch police.
- © Fairfax NZ News