Kihikihi residents and business owners have been targeted by thieves who rip external gas water heaters from outside walls.
They took three Rinnai Infinity external heaters from different sites on Saturday night.
“They are just gutting everything off the wall and are pretty much taking everything,” said Neal Savage, the owner of Waipā Gas and Plumbing. “There just seems to be more and more of it happening.”
Victims have shared their stories online. For some it isn’t the first time that is has happened to them.
Units from the Kihikihi Domain were taken three weeks ago. They were replaced by council and stolen again last weekend.
“Thanks to these idiots our rugby players and visiting teams have to have cold showers in this freezing weather,” Seline Heke of the Kihikihi Rugby Sports Club posted on Facebook.
Lisa Couling, who owns Pets on Kihikihi, had one of her units stolen as well.
She has a second unit, which has been un-installed out of fear of it being stolen too. Couling said it will not be reinstalled until she can find a way to better secure it.
Savage says the most common unit, the Rinnai Infinity A26, costs about $1500.
“We are pretty sure we have seen some stolen ones on Facebook Market Place, with the missing brackets and everything off them.
‘Obviously if somebody comes across a unit that has no brackets on it, you know it is stolen.”
He believes that cordless power tools have made things easy for the burglars.
“I don’t know how you can stop them. If they want them, they’ll take them. It doesn’t seem to matter what you do. As far as securing them, you can buy brackets, but they would only stop them for a couple of seconds.”
Savage said that there is a shortage of the units in the country, and he believes thieves could be stealing them to order.
He estimates that the amount of copper in each unit would only be worth $50 if they were scraped.
“At the end of the day if people don’t buy the second-hand units, then there will be no demand and no cause for them to pinch them really.”
During installation, which typically costs upward of $3000, Waipā Gas and Plumbing record the serial numbers of the units.
Savage recommends that owners also record the serial numbers of their units, so that they can be given to police in the event of a crime.
Rinnai declined to comment on burglaries, stating that it is a police matter and that Rinnai do not install the units themselves.
The Te Awamutu Police are aware that the units are a target of thieves and are investigating the matter further.