I first reported on occurrences of theft by demolition companies working in Christchurch back in March. At that time I thought (or at least hoped) that it was an isolated incident but subsequent events have shown that demolition companies are engaged in widespread activities that do nothing but line their own pockets. These activities can be divided into two different classes;
- Over charging CERA and insurance companies for demolition work
- Widespread looting of demolition sites
So here we go again. It has been reported that March Construction demolished the Securities House building. During the demolition the building tenants were told that no salvageable items remained. Contrary to this however it appears March completely stripped the building, going so far as to empty locked filing cabinets of their files – which were then dumped, the filing cabinets allegedly finding their way to eventual sale and the fattening of March’s bottom line.
March Construction director Buzz March shrugged it off saying that every floor was saturated and no recoverable items remained. This despite the fact that one of his employees was stopped for drink driving and was found to have two laptops belonging to the tenants of the building in his car. Further jewelry that was on site has found its way into the hands of demolition workers.
I have been contacted by a party who has had a demolition company owner offer his as much furniture, household items and even jewelry as he could possible want – it seems this looting by demolition companies is long standing and systemic.
All this despite the Council’s statement after the February quake which said that;
Demolition contractors undertaking commercial or Red Zone demolitions are not allowed to salvage materials. Where possible, goods of value, such as business equipment, will be returned to the owner or tenant. Building materials will be recycled as much as possible.
I have every respect for Roger Sutton, head of CERA, but on a daily basis stories are being uncovered that point to a total and utter rort occurring in Christchurch. While one demolition worker has been arrested, my assessment is that he is merely a scapegoat and that it is the insurance company owners and managers who are controlling this programme of wholesale theft.
I challenge Roger Sutton and Gerry Brownlee, Minister for Earthquake Recovery, to actually provide some answers and direction around this