Builder's tip-off leads to tool stash

LOOT: More than $100,000 worth of tools were recovered by police who raided a Christchurch house.
NZ Police
LOOT: More than $100,000 worth of tools were recovered by police who raided a Christchurch house.

A builder who leapt into a car in the middle of the night to chase an alleged thief has led police to the discovery of one of the largest caches of stolen tools since the rebuild began.

Drill sets, drop saws, laser levels, chainsaws, skillsaws, generators and nail guns were among items worth about $120,000 found by police during a raid at a Hoon Hay home last week.

The equipment had been linked to at least 30 thefts across the city in the past year, police said.

Police have credited self-employed builder Christopher Lumsden with helping catch the alleged thief.

Lumsden discovered his ute had been broken into after he was woken by a dog barking at his Cashmere home about 4am on March 26.

Realising the culprit would not be far away, he leapt into his girlfriend's car and found a man tampering with a truck down the road.

When confronted, the man "jumped in his car and sped away".

Lumsden gave chase but turned back and called police because "it was getting dangerous".

He provided the number plate of the vehicle involved in the incident.

"I don't think much of them [thieves] at all," Lumsden said.

"We're trying to get this city sorted and these guys are stealing all our gear."

Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Darren Folau said police had spent the past week trying to reunite the stolen equipment with its owners but it had proved difficult.

"The industry needs to take ownership of this problem as we are continuing to seize large quantities of stolen tools from thieves, but often struggle to return them to their owners," he said.

"Anybody working in the building and contracting industries should clearly mark their tools and equipment by either engraving or using a unique identifier to deter potential thieves."

Theft was a multimillion-dollar issue that had plagued the rebuild, Folau said.

The industries had to take a stand on buying cheap equipment that was clearly not legitimate, he said.

"This practice of purchasing stolen power tools simply feeds the habits of the criminal underworld."

Tools left unsecured in vehicles and at building sites were "easy pickings" for thieves.

Jason Francis Robb, 30, appeared in the Christchurch District Court yesterday, and faced eight charges of receiving stolen property, one of unlawfully being in a building, and 23 charges of stealing the tools.

He was remanded in custody until May 5 when he is scheduled to appear by video-link from prison. The court heard he would likely face more charges.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Christchurch police on (03) 363 7400 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The Press