Police try calm security fears

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 17/08/2012
Cera guard Rory Garland
Kirk Hargreaves
ON PATROL: Rory Garland, security guard for Cera, on night patrol in the residential red zone.

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Police are moving to calm fears that burglary and vandalism is out of control in the residential red zone.

Re revealed earlier this month that the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) is spending $1000 a day on private security to keep the red zone safe. 

Red zone residents responded with stories of burglary and vandalism and fears that some crime was not being recorded.

Senior Sergeant Roy Appley, who is coordinating red zone security with Cera, said crime was under control.

''Burglaries are not very common. We will always have the odd burglary because it is such a big area. It is a problem we have to constantly work on. It is rare to have a burglary in the residential red zone because we have all this extra security,'' he said.

Appley also calmed fears that burglaries at Cera-owned properties were not being reported.

''If it is sold to the government then they are the owner and they report burglaries to us.''

A Cera spokesman confirmed that crimes were reported.

''Any instance of burglary or theft at Residential Red Zone properties that comes to Cera's attention is reported to police.

This includes any properties where the owner has settled with the Crown.''

Crime in eastern Christchurch fell over the last financial year,  police figures show. Burglary has fallen 13 per cent and arson has fallen 43 per cent for the financial year to June 15.

The crime figures relate to the northern policing area, which includes most of the red zone, but stretches as far north as Cheviot.

Private security firm Sub5 was appointed by the Cera in May. Security guards patrol the red zone night and day, inspecting Cera-owned properties and reporting suspicious activity to the police.

The private security is bolstered by community patrols and special policing.

Former Kaiapoi resident Andrew, who did not want to give his second name, said his red zoned house was broken into several times. He said interior doors, fittings and tapware were stolen.

''It all started after people started shifting out and properties were settled. The moment the grass started getting overgrown, houses started getting broken into,'' he said.

''There were only 12 occupied houses in a street of about 14 houses. About 10 were broken into. It was a fairly widespread thing.''

Press readers also shared their stories of burglary online. One reader said they had been broken into many times.

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''I'm not sure the patrols are working as well as they think, our red zone house has been broken into at least four times, they even took curtain rods and tapware.''

- The Press

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