Red-zone thief jailed for two years

A red-zone contractor who shipped stolen goods to the North Island for "monster garage sales" has been jailed for two years.

Christchurch District Court Judge Philip Moran told Victor Tupotahi Jackson, 38, that the community expected people who plundered property in the red zone to be dealt with severely.

"Deterrence is a very significant factor here today," he said.

"Your rehabilitation is a secondary consideration."

Jackson, a father of two, had arrived in Christchurch to work on the earthquake recovery but ended up pleading guilty to four charges alleging theft of goods totalling about $23,000.

He was working as a plasterer in a central-city block, where he stole clothing, cosmetics and footwear.

Police say $17,468 worth of goods was recovered and $6000 remains unrecovered from Jackson's thefts.

Defence counsel David Bunce said Jackson was remorseful and had been considerably shamed by the unwelcome attention of the media.

"He came to Christchurch with his business partner and was working in a number of locations in the red zone," Bunce told the court.

"It appears that in this slightly surreal and empty environment, devoid of people but surrounded by abandoned and available property of all kinds, standards became lax.

"He and a number of others similarly employed got into the habit of helping themselves to the consumer goods they were surrounded by."

Judge Moran said the offences took place from October last year to January.

Jackson twice packed up property and sent it to homes in Tauranga before advertising monster garage sales to turn it into money.

"The police got on to this and located in your possession a considerable amount of stolen property," the judge said.

"This was theft on a large scale, theft within the red zone, where you were taking advantage of earthquake victims - victims who were vulnerable. It involved a huge breach of trust.

"You came to Christchurch to help. It's a pity you betrayed your own ideals."

Judge Moran imposed a jail term of two years and ordered Jackson to pay $6000 reparation, as well as $600 in shipping costs to return the recovered goods to Christchurch from the North Island.

The Press