One of the men charged with looting after the earthquake is autistic and has a mental disability that compels him to steal light fittings.Mr Smith’s sister has told the Herald that Smith has Aspergers syndrome, and that it makes him “collect” light fittings.
Arie Smith, 25, became a figure of hate when he was named and shamed after appearing in a makeshift district court charged with theft. He was photographed with a black eye.
He was denied bail by the judge to send a strong message to Christchurch looters, and was remanded in custody until his next appearance.
There has a been a lot of hatred expressed towards those caught by police in Christchurch, particularly on sites like Kiwiblog, with many commenters virtually begging police to brutalise alleged offenders. A particularly prevalent fantasy being relayed by these (almost always) men is that people arrested for crimes in Christchurch ought to be beaten up or thrown down a flight of stairs. And, no, I won’t link to the offending comments, because they’re just icky, and there are too many in any case.
But a lot of people who commit crimes are victims themselves, as the case of Mr Smith appears to show.
It is probably too much to hope that the people who are calling for burglars and looters in Christchurch to be shot on site will reflect on what they are saying. But they should.