A series of incidents on Auckland's North Shore, including the theft of copper wiring and pipes, has potentially jeopardised one woman's property sale and impacted another local business.
Aucklander Lynette told Newshub she recently sold her house in Beach Haven but during the final inspection, the real estate agent noticed something amiss.
They had turned on the hot water cylinder, which emptied straight into the ground and caused a major leak, Lynette said.
After investigating the source of the leak, a tradesman realised someone had broken into the property's basement to cut and steal the copper pipes.
"My plumber found they had gone right underneath and cut the main pipe coming into the house from the road. Cutting and pulling on [the] pipes also did some damage to the connectors directly on the cylinder and also the shower mixer, costing us nearly $2000 to re-plumb and repair," Lynette said.
With the settlement set to take place on Friday, Lynette said it has been "very stressful" and they are "doing everything we can to get it all reinstated" in time.
She said the incident has left her "gutted, victimised and stressed", branding the alleged thief a "scumbag".
Ryan Sullivan, a co-owner and tradesman at Sullivan Plumbing and Gas in Auckland, told Newshub the company has previously had calls to commercial buildings where pipework was stolen, "but never a whole house". Now, he's been to three similar incidents in the past few weeks.
"On Wednesday, May 5 we received a call in regards to a job in Te Atatu where the client's home was left vacant while they were away. When they returned they... discovered none of the water pipework was remaining," Sullivan said.
"Then on May 11 we received another call, the home was listed for sale [in Henderson] and currently vacated. They discovered when setting up for an open home that the water had also been shut off and on further inspection discovered the same thing - water meter off and all copper pipework stolen from beneath the house. This property also had copper waste pipes that had been stolen."
He said in both instances, the thieves had removed the pipework with a grinder and with force, which would have caused a significant amount of noise.
"It's hard to comment on whether I believe it was the same people/person but both were close in proximity and timeframe with very similar methods of removal. I believe they are scoping out properties for sale or clearly empty and targeting them during the day," he said.
"In both cases, the quotes were in the vicinity of $3000 dollars to replace the hot and cold pipework with DUX Secura."
Cafe Cezwe in Wairau Valley was also recently targeted by thieves, owner and director Mehmet Ceran told Newshub.
"Basically we have got a hot water system which has a gas connection and the connection has copper pipes about 5.5 metres long. They came and cut the pipe and took the top part of the connection and they damaged the hot water system and the gas metre."
He said the cafe had to shut for a day while they called in a plumbing company to fix the cylinder, which cost around $3000.
"It's a really, really cheap thing to do and it affects a lot of people's livelihoods. It's sad if he came to my shop and asked for help I would have given it to him you know. It is a helpful community. But the damage he caused for $20 - $25… we don't deserve this."
Thieves around New Zealand are known to steal copper wiring, but it's more commonly taken from power poles.
Police reported in May that in Manawatū alone, approximately 10,000 metres of copper cabling has been stolen from Powerco's electricity network so far this year.