A digger demolishes a quake-damaged house. Abandoned and have become popular targets for burglars, thieves, and arsonists.
A digger demolishes a quake-damaged house. Abandoned and have become popular targets for burglars, thieves, and arsonists. The Star

Mystery around booby traps in Christchurch buildings

ABANDONED earthquake-damaged homes in Christchurch's residential red zone are being booby-trapped in a mystery that has so far baffled police.

Police are concerned at the secret devices that have been rigged to injure or maim intruders in the wrecked homes.

While the properties may lie abandoned and have become popular targets for burglars, thieves, and arsonists, they have also emerged as makeshift refuges for the city's homeless population.

They are also visited by staff from Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera), security workers, and police officers, as well as construction or demolition workers.

But they are now all in danger of the possum traps and other homemade devices that have been placed at entrances to various properties in the east of the city.

Cera alerted police to the "very small number of properties in the residential red zone where an attempt has been made to create a hazard for someone entering the building," a police spokeswoman said.

"Police have attended these properties but, to date, investigations have not identified who may have been responsible," she said.

Cera staff do regular safety checks on properties within the residential red zone, while a security firm is also employed to conduct regular checks 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"These regular security patrols help maintain a low number of incidents reported in the residential red zone and will continue to be conducted," said a Cera spokeswoman.

"Any suspicious or criminal behaviour that is sighted or found is immediately reported to the New Zealand Police to handle."

Christchurch police urged anyone who sees anything suspicious to call them on 03 363 7400 or provide information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.



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