Rebuild contractors steal vehicles
Police believe expensive commercial vehicles are being stolen, repainted and reused in the Christchurch construction industry.
They say they have ''real concern'' about a spate of thefts that has seen thieves target at least five high-value vehicles since mid-August, worth more than $300,000.
In the latest incident, a forklift was taken last night from a Hayton Rd, Wigram, property after offenders broke through a fence.
Detective Senior Sergeant Corrie Parnell said he did not believe the stolen vehicles were bound for illicit chop-shops.
Instead, he thought they were being repainted, refitted and reused in the city's rebuild.
He urged contractors and tradespeople to be vigilant about security and appealed to anyone with information on the thefts to come forward.
"It's almost certain there are people in the construction and contracting industry that know what is going on and we urge them to come forward.''
Parnell said the spate of thefts was "a real concern", and police would step up surveillance of any unusual activity involving commercial vehicles thefts and would ''come down hard'' on people they caught.
"But unlike the recent police operations targeting car chop-shops, we don't believe these vehicles are destined for being dismantled and scrapped for parts,'' he said.
"Given the high demand for heavy contracting machinery in Christchurch at present, we believe it's highly likely vehicles such as these are being quickly repainted and refitted, or rebirthed, and moved back into the local market.''
Parnell said that "without a doubt" contractors were stealing from one another.
"I'd be naive to think it's just down to one person," he said.
"Our warning to those people involved in the trade is that if you buy stolen goods you're perpetuating the illicit trade and putting yourselves and others at risk. You're just as likely to have your own equipment ripped off."
The thefts began when offenders broke into Supersealing Ltd in Francella St, Bromley, and stole a Mitsubishi Canter truck with a crane on the back, along with a waterblaster, trailer and walk-behind roller, overnight on Monday, August 12.
The machinery was worth about $80,000.
"The offenders have made a determined effort to target the vehicles, breaking through two sets of padlocks and secure fencing," Parnell said.
The truck was recovered two days later on the corner of Hills Rd and Walters Rd, but the equipment was missing.
On the night of Friday, August 23, thieves broke into the Port Hills Truck Centre in Brightlings Rd, Hillsborough, and took an Isuzu truck belonging to AGL Scaffolding and Rigging.
Police believed the offenders cut a chain on the gate to gain access. The truck was valued at $20,000.
The same weekend, burglars broke into the premises of Cableprice New Zealand in Waterloo Rd, Hornby, making off with a $45,000 Hitachi excavator and trailer. The excavator was described as being a distinctive orange colour.
The offenders cut through a heavy chain to gain access.
They also made off with a large number of tools and items of small machinery from the site.
Investigators hope to be able to review closed-circuit television camera footage from the surrounding area.
On Tuesday night, a building site in Logistics Drive, Harewood, was broken into and a 2006 Isuzu truck, worth about $150,000, stolen.
Anyone with information should call the Christchurch police on (03) 3637712 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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