Hotel looted in quake red zone

6:28 am on 20 May 2011

A Christchurch hotel owner has discovered his building in the central city's red zone has been ransacked by looters.

The owner of Hotel Off The Square, Timothy Nicholls, gained access to the cordoned off site only last week and discovered that most of the guest rooms had been raided.

Mr Nicholls suspects that the thefts took place in the days after the quake on 22 February, and says he does appreciate that the focus needed to be on saving lives instead of protecting property.

Suitcases were forced open and valuables taken from purses, as well as laptops and tennis racquets.

Mr Nicholls says he has been in touch with a number of central city hotels and his appears to be an isolated case.

Most guests are claiming for their stolen items through travel insurance at this stage.

The president of the branch of the Canterbury Hospitality Association, Peter Morrison, says generally, members are very happy with the level of security provided in the cordoned off zones.

"I think the armed forces and police have done an outstanding job controlling such a big area. There's always going to be some low-life that sneaks his way in, but generally we're very happy with the amount of security that's been there."

Mr Morrison says his members have reported only a few minor thefts with items such as outdoor chairs disappearing.