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PM condemns Canterbury looters

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/11/2016

Police confirmed offenders have committed eight burglaries in Canterbury since Monday's quake shook the region, prompting suggestions laws could be toughened to punish offenders.

Prime Minister John Key said he found himself agreeing with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters on Monday after he called on parliament to condemn the "evil" acts.

"It should agree to pass legislation that will deliver a sentence that will make anyone else, when tempted, to think twice," Mr Peters said.

"No decent society should allow such cold-hearted individuals to get away with a slap on the wrist - let's make a commitment to do something."

Mr Key questioned though whether someone who would stoop so low as to rob those going through a tough time might even notice a law change, but also condemned the act.

"Burglary is an awful thing. To be doing that when someone is in the middle of a natural disaster, I mean, give me a break," he told TV3's Paul Henry programme.

Among the victims were Matt and Melissa Mill, who left their seaside New Brighton home with their two young daughters, and returned to find it ransacked.

One daughter's $5000 hearing device was stolen as well as a family vehicle.

"It's really horrid," Mrs Mills told NZME.

"We took our family away to be safe and came back to all of this. It's just devastating."

District commander Superintendent John Price says it's extremely disappointing that some people are interested only in taking advantage of a traumatic event.

"This sort of offending really scrapes the bottom of the barrel, especially for Cantabrians who have endured so much heartache in similar circumstances over the last five years," he said.

Canterbury volume crime supervisor Detective Sergeant Damon Wells says police are not only investigating the burglaries but carrying out reassurance patrols across affected parts of Christchurch.

"We would encourage the public to join neighbourhood support groups, especially the Christchurch Gets Ready, Selwyn Gets Ready and North Canterbury Gets Ready websites," he said.

He said the sites can provide quick email or text updates to members.

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