Three Construction Site Thefts Within Two Weeks Pose Major Problems for Contractors - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/11/05

Three Construction Site Thefts Within Two Weeks Pose Major Problems for Contractors

Paint contractor Jeff Shellman died in a West Lubbock basement Thursday, August 10. Investigators believe the 37-year-old was overcome by paint fumes and collapsed. Shellman returned to his work site because he didn't want his equipment stolen, and as NewsChannel 11 learned, it's something that happens frequently in the Lubbock area.

Police say just within the last two weeks, thieves hit at least three construction sites hit in different parts of town. Construction workers say it's a problem that will not go away.

It happens at almost every construction site, the crew goes home, but thieves go in tearing out electrical wiring, breaking windows, or stealing wood or anything else in site. Minnix Commercial Job Site Superintendent, Jon Fleming says, "It happens a lot. Any new housing development will see it."

Fleming is working on a Minnix commercial site just across from a Minnix residential site in the 6000 block of 83rd, where just last week thieves went into one of the homes and took the wiring. Fleming has worked in construction for over 20 years and said vandalism and thefts happen at all construction sites. Fleming said, "You pay for liquidated damages if that's in your contract."

He also said the thefts set workers back both chronologically and financially. "No matter where you have to go to get it overnight or you pick it up, you need that item and you need it today," said Fleming. "So there's an added cost to us."

One possible reason people may steal from construction sites is you can take the stolen goods to a scrap metal yard and make a small profit. Fleming said, "When times get tough and supplies become more expensive, more rare, if you cannot buy a two by four, someone will come and take yours."

Police don't expect construction site theft to stop, as crews continue to go to work on more subdivisions. However, they say crews should be more cautious about securing their sites, but Fleming said he's tried almost everything. He's even left windows open in hopes they won't be broken out, but nothing keeps thieves away. "It won't go away, I have not found a good solution for it yet, if you lock a door, they break a window," says Flemming.

Here's a warning, scrap yards keep detailed logs, so if you do steal and trade in the goods, police can easily find out who you are.

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