Nine thousand wheelie bins have gone missing in Christchurch's quake-damaged residential red zone, and the council wants them back.
Most of them have been reported to the police as stolen, but others were probably taken by property owners as they abandoned their houses.
The wheelie bins began vanishing shortly after the earthquakes and are proving to be another costly problem for a city council that's already got plenty on its plate.
“There's around 9000-odd that are unaccounted for, and to date we've had 2500 complaints of bins being stolen, with the relocation of people around the city it has made the situation worse,” says Mark Christianson of Christchurch City Council.
The council says abandoned properties in the residential red zone are an easy target for a wheelie bin thief, but it seems residents who fled the city also found them handy hold-alls.
“Our contractor has collected bins from Nelson, so there are elements in society always looking for an opportunity,” says Mr Christianson.
So who else would steal a wheelie bin - and why?
“Bins can be used for many things, racing down streets if you live on a hill - that can have an unfortunate ending,” says councillor Aaron Keown.
“You could plant trees in the bins, you could use them for stuff around the home, they are polyethylene plastic so they can be chipped up and used for other plastics,” says Mr Christianson.
It costs $342 to replace a set of three and the council will only pay if they're stolen from the curb, awaiting collection.
If they vanish from your property, you pay.