Herald on Sunday

CCTV scan in vandal search

Neighbours hear nothing as digger rips apart $675,000 new-build home

- Ben Leahy

Police hunting vandals who broke into a constructi­on site and tore down a new $675,000 South Auckland home with a digger have been checking security cameras from nearby houses.

Workers arrived at the Flat Bush site on Friday morning to find a 20-tonne digger’s bucket had smashed into the home’s roof and walls. The house would have to be rebuilt, at a likely cost between $200,000 to $300,000.

The vandals also used a second, smaller digger to damage concrete foundation­s laid for a complex of 80 apartments also being built on the DDL Homes site.

Police asked for CCTV footage from the home of at least one nearby resident. However, the resident had not heard any noise or disturbanc­e from the constructi­on site overnight on Thursday.

A developer himself, the neighbour said he had never heard of a crime like it.

Homes he and his friends had built had suffered minor vandalism, such as smashed windows or doors, while under constructi­on. And he had heard of fire damaging homes on worksites.

“But nothing like

We just don’t know why someone would do that. Baljit Dheil

this,” he said.

DDL Homes owner Baljit Dheil earlier told the Herald that her team was shocked.

“We just don’t know why someone would do that,” she said.

“Even police were saying this morning they’ve never had a case like this.”

GPS data from the diggers showed the vandals had been on the site for hours.

They started the first smaller digger

at 1am on Friday and used it to “attack” and drive over the concrete foundation­s of the 80-apartment complex, all of which had been presold.

The damage meant the entire foundation­s would now have to be pulled up and relaid, Dheil said.

The vandals next started the 20-tonne digger at about 3.30am and tore apart the townhouse.

Due to be handed over to its buyers, everything had already gone into the home, including the kitchen and bathroom finishings. The workers were only waiting on carpet and flooring.

There would also be a two-tothree-month delay as all the materials had to be reordered and delivered,

and builders rehired.

Dheil had been forced to call the home’s buyers on Friday to deliver the bad news.

They took it as philosophi­cally as was possible, she said.

There was also concern that seven other townhouses attached to the home had also been damaged. Should those townhouses need to be rebuilt, then the cost of repairs could stretch well past $1 million.

Police could not provide an update on their investigat­ions yesterday.

They had earlier said anyone with informatio­n could contact police by calling 105 and quoting the file number 210611/6076.

“Informatio­n can also be provided through Crimestopp­ers anony

mously on 0800 555 111,” a spokesman said. Dheil could also not be reached for further comment yesterday.

The closest houses to the site with residents living in them were all some distance away.

DDL Homes was now filing an insurance claim and said an assessor would inspect the damage.

The site didn’t yet have security cameras but DDL Homes had been working on setting up security after thieves broke into site’s portable container a month ago and made off with computers, microwaves and other goods.

A door-knock of neighbours by Dheil’s team on Friday morning also failed to yield any clues.

 ?? Photo / Sylvie Whinray ?? The townhouse in the Flat Bush housing developmen­t was damaged by a digger. The rebuild cost could be up to $300,000.
Photo / Sylvie Whinray The townhouse in the Flat Bush housing developmen­t was damaged by a digger. The rebuild cost could be up to $300,000.

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