Alleged glasses theft 'betrayal of trust'

The alleged theft of sunglasses by a police officer was a "terrible betrayal of trust", the co-owner of an earthquake-damaged business says.

The North Island constable, who was charged with protecting Christchurch's red zone from looters, allegedly smashed a locked display cabinet to steal three pairs of sunglasses.

Optometrist Paul Hey, of Hey Optometrists in Sydenham, said he knew expensive adidas sunglasses had been stolen when he saw the smashed display cabinet while picking up stock from the cordoned, quake-damaged premises.

"I was the one who discovered the theft when we came back to pick some stuff up," he said. "We knew we had stuff stolen. It is pretty obvious when someone breaks into a locked display stand.

"To have something stolen by a person who is supposed to protect the public is a terrible betrayal of trust, but we were very happy with the professional way the police handled this incident."

The constable was one of hundreds of police officers who spent several weeks in Christchurch after the February 2011 quake.

The constable quit amid allegations that he stole the sunglasses. His fingerprints were found in the shop.

Assistant commissioner south Dave Cliff said this week that the matter was investigated as soon as it came to police attention.

An inquiry was conducted and the constable was suspended once evidence of his involvement emerged.

There was not enough legal evidence to prove a charge of theft, Cliff said.

Hey said it was "disappointing" that criminal charges could not be brought against the officer.

The Press