Thieves are targeting construction sites
EAGLE COUNTY – Sometime between the night John Carey left the Gypsum Costco construction site Aug. 8 and returned early the following morning, thieves stole and damaged $500,000 in equipment and concrete.The construction theft – some say the biggest in Eagle County history – surprised Carey, site superintendent for Robinson Construction Co.”It’s the biggest one I’ve seen in 32 years,” Carey said. “There’s been a couple through the years – nothing like this. It took quite a few people to do what they did in that amount of time.”Thieves stole over 100 pieces of equipment – including hand tools, power tools, generators, welders and a band saw – from the construction site.Much like Costco, other construction sites in Eagle County are being burglarized.”It seems to pick up in the summer,” said Dan Loya, detective for the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. “We also have some bigger projects going on in the county than we normally would.”Population growth is also a factor. “When you have growth anywhere, you have crime,” Loya said.In some cases, a crime of opportunity means stealing smaller items – such as drills – for personal use, Loya said. In larger cases like Costco, the culprits probably plan ahead and steal items to make a profit, Loya said.The items can be resold at flea markets and on eBay, Loya said.”If I steal a $1,000 generator, I can go sell it for $300 to $400,” Loya said. “That’s a pretty good profit.”Copper tubing – the typical item stolen from Vail construction sites – and wire are often stolen from construction sites and resold to scrap yards. The copper fetches a considerable profit, sometimes $60 per foot for wire, said Vail police Sgt. Chris Botkins, who heads up the Construction and Special Events Team.The Costco theft occurred despite a fence and police patrols. Because neither is enough protection from thieves, police ask contractors to lock up equipment.Loya recommends noting the make, model and serial number of equipment, as well as engraving distinctive marks on tools.There is now a security firm watching over the Costco construction site, Carey said, because thieves may strike again.”You never know,” Carey said.
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