Businesses urge lengthy sentances for looters

9:58 pm on 17 May 2012

The Canterbury Business Association says lengthy prison sentences is the only way to stop looting in the Christchurch red zone.

On Wednesday a contractor from Tauranga was sentenced to two years prison in the Christchurch District Court, for stealing more than $23,000 worth of items from businesses in Christchurch's central city.

Canterbury Business Association chief executive Taz Mukorombindo says the sentence should send a clear message to looters who take advantage of businesses in a disaster zone.

Mr Mukorombindo says he believes much more property has been taken from condemned buildings in the redzone than what the items of which business owners are aware.

Contractor Victor Tupotahi Jackson, 38, who pleaded guilty to four counts of theft, worked as a plasterer on earthquake repairs in the CBD between October 2011 and January 2012.

Jackson stole clothing, accessories, cosmetics and footwear from Ballantynes, and Colombus and Ware menswear, before having them couriered to Tauranga where he held a garage sale.

While most of the stolen property has been recovered by police, Jackson has been ordered to pay $6000 in reparations for items that have not been found.

Separately, police have accepted the resignation of an officer who allegedly stole sunglasses from an abandoned Christchurch shop in the aftermath of the February 2011 earthquake.

It is alleged three sets of sunglasses were taken from a cordoned-off suburban shop by an officer from the North Island.

Assistant commissioner Dave Cliff says legal advice suggested there is not enough evidence to support charge of theft. The officer in question denies he stole the glasses and he resigned before the investigation was completed.