Rebuild worker's stolen ute found on West Coast

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 14:04 13/02/2013
Luke Smith
DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ
Luke Smith, whose ute was stolen last weekend.

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A ute stolen from a tradesman only days after he relocated to Christchurch to work on the rebuild has been found "mindlessly vandalised" on the West Coast.

Luke Smith, 27, had everything he owned in the back of the utility vehicle when it was taken from outside his friend's house in Barbour St, Waltham, on Saturday night.

Among the items in the vehicle were his tools for tiling, worth about $5000, that had been passed on to him by his father.

A train driver found the ute down a bank at Otira next to the railway tracks, and Smith took the day off work yesterday to tow it back to Christchurch.

Everything of value had been taken. All that was left was a pile of work clothes, Smith said.

"They've pretty much taken everything. They stripped what they wanted out of it, which was pretty much everything I wanted, but I did get back a few sentimental things."

The ute looked like it had crashed into something, he said.

"It's not written off, it's salvageable, but it's going to take quite a bit of work before it can get back on the road."

Smith believed the only reason the vehicle was dumped was because of a tyre blowing out as the near-empty petrol tank had been filled.

Police were to conduct forensic tests on the vehicle today.

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- The Press

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