Burglars strip apartment block in daring heist
The gang posed as builders carrying out demolition work and were able to steal £250,000 worth of fittings from an abandoned housing estate in Kelston, Auckland.
They turned up in a lorry, wearing hard hats and bright orange high-visibility vests, at Pepperwood Mews and put up a safety fence around the building. This allowed them to remove fixtures and fittings at the 32-apartment block at their leisure. They spent weeks ripping out kitchen sinks, doors, window frames, carpets and electrical fittings.
The £6 million apartment complex was built in 2004 for investors under a Housing New Zealand Corporation deal to lease the flats to pensioners. Residents were forced to leave five years later because the building was deemed structurally unsound. Since then, it has been the subject of a legal battle between the 32 owners, Auckland Council and Housing New Zealand.
Apartment owner Judy Anderson told the New Zealand Herald: "I'm calling it a heist, a robbery. This is just beyond our imagining. They even took the kitchen sinks - 32 of them.
"The hideous situation the owners face - they have lost income from the building, some have to leave their own homes. And they have had this last little bit of money taken out of the building which was going to fund the demolition.'
Four people - three men and one woman - have been charged with burglary in the apartment they were caught in. They gave police a mobile phone number for the man they say hired them to do the demolition. Officers have been unable to connect to the number.
Owners group chairman Adrian Chitty said the four may have believed they were working legally. "Someone, somewhere has seen an opportunity to make some money and they have moved in - it's bloody frustrating."