Police in liaison with Civil Defence are working hard to recover up to 4,000 vehicles from Christchurch CBD and are urging owners to be patient as the process may take some days to complete.
Initially the focus is on removing vehicles from within the cordoned area that are parked on the streets. These have the least safety issues and will open up the roads within the CBD giving better access to the emergency services and contractors.
Once this phase is complete Police will begin the process of trying to retrieve vehicles from car parks and other off-street locations. In many of these cases Police will have to work with engineers to assess the safety of recovering vehicles as many are close to unstable buildings or in dangerous underground parking areas.
People who have vehicles within the CBD can register their details with the Vehicle Recovery Team by phoning 0800 311 311. This phone line is open daily between 8am and 5pm each day.
It is important that owners only contact this number and register their details ONCE. Registration doesn't mean a vehicle will be instantly reunited. It does mean that once a vehicle has been retrieved from the CBD returning it will be easier.
Supt Russell Gibson said: "We fully appreciate that people being without their vehicles is a source of frustration but the rescue and recovery operation had to be made a priority and public safety within the CBD remains an issue. I therefore urge people to be patient for just a little while longer as I can assure vehicle owners we are doing everything possible to return vehicles as quickly as possible."
It is important for owners to note the following:
• When a vehicle is available for collection the owner will be notified and a time and collection point will be agreed.
• No vehicle will be handed over unless the person collecting the vehicle has the keys, up-to-date proof of ownership and identification that meet Police requirements.
• Due to the destruction within the CBD there may be some vehicles that are damaged and not driveable.
• In cases where owners do not have keys or the vehicle cannot be driven it will be recovered from the CBD by Police, taken to a collection point and the owner will be contacted. Owners will then need to organise replacement keys or a tow from the collection point and liaise direct with their insurers.
Christchurch Media Liaison Team: 027 432 0960 or ChchPoliceMediaLiason@police.govt.nz
Public Affairs: 04 460 2986 or 04 474 9482