Facebook 'free house' party spirals out of conrol
The owners of a Kambah, ACT house trashed by vandals, causing about AU$100,000 (NZ$107,000) worth of damage, had been handed the keys just one week earlier and were yet to settle.
Vandals left a trail of destruction when they broke into the four-bedroom house on Tuesday night after a public party was advertised on Facebook.
They smashed the home's windows, tore holes in the freshly-painted gyprock, ripped doors from their hinges, tore curtains down and pulled hanging lights from the ceiling.
The first homebuyers had yet to settle on the house but had been given early access to paint.
As they surveyed the damage, the new owners said they were still in shock.
"What have we done to deserve this?" one owner said.
They got the keys eight days ago, and had spent several days patching the walls and painting the interior.
They had arrived at the house to find a side gate, laundry door and front door open on Tuesday.
Police were called, but nothing had been stolen.
Hours later, the couple received a call from police, who told them the house had been trashed and they should get there as soon as possible.
They arrived to find seven police cars at the property.
"We knew then it was bad," one said.
"The police brought us in and said 'it's pretty much the worst we've ever seen, so be prepared'."
"We had to sit in the car for a few hours to wait for the police forensics team and we just sat there and didn't say anything.
"What can you do? There's nothing we can do."
The pair had hoped to move in by the end of next week.
Now the house will be cleaned out and boarded up until builders can inspect it and get to work.
The owners said the house was fully insured.
Cunningham and Lindsay loss adjuster Daniel Kim, who inspected the home, estimated the damage at AU$100,000.
"The amount of damage I've seen today is just phenomenal," Mr Kim said.
"I've never seen a house with this much damage from one incident."
One neighbour said cars, some with P-plates, full of young people had started to pull up in the quiet cul-de-sac about 8.30pm.
About half an hour before, a car had pulled up further down the street for a few minutes.
There were banging noises shortly after 9pm, before the young people were heard to run back to their cars and drive off, the neighbour said.
Another nearby resident told the couple he had heard smashing glass but ignored it because he knew the house was being renovated.
Police said a "free house" party had been promoted on Facebook, prompting the large turnout.
Acting Officer-in-Charge of the Tuggeranong police station Sergeant Mark Rowswell said the incident was a wanton display of senseless vandalism.
"This is a senseless act with little regard to the home owners. At this time we have a number of vehicle registrations of fleeing cars which we will be following up on," he said.
"For any teens that were involved, I urge you to come forward and talk to us."
Mr Roswell said police believe most involved in the vandalism were aged between 15 and 18 years old.
"It would be better for them to come forward than wait for police to come knock on their door," he said.