July 16th, 2024

Property crime at job sites remains an issue for local builders

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on December 20, 2022.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Police say they've seen an increase in construction site crime across the city.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Members of BILD Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Police Service property crime unit sat down Monday morning to discuss the increase in crime happening at construction sites across the city.

LPS Property Crimes Unit Sgt. Liam Breedon said they had identified a strong trend in relation to thefts, break and enters, mischief and different kinds of crimes happening at construction sites in the city, and through that, they recognized there was an opportunity to get some of the impacted companies together through BILD and have an open dialogue in terms of what they all can do together to help prevent some of those crimes.

“With the value of construction equipment, construction materials, things of that nature, we’re seeing an uptick in crimes that are occurring on these sites,” said Breedon.

He said some of the crimes involve thefts of construction materials like lumber, electrical wire and tools as well as damage to property.

Representatives from Ramton Homes, Cedar Ridge, Ashcroft and Stranville Living were present, and they shared that they are having multiple issues at construction sites in different areas of the west side of the city lately.

One common theme among those present was the fact that site crimes are delaying the building process, costing them more money and increasing their frustration.

One builder explained that in his case, one of his sites had been broken into multiple times to steal the wiring, to the point where they had to board up the house with drilled holes for the electricians to fish the wire out after, which is a difficult thing to do, in order to avoid more thefts.

When asked by LPS about possible suspects, those in attendance said they believe whoever is breaking into their sites must be someone who is either in the industry, or who was part of the industry, because they know what to take and in most cases, how to remove it from the site.

BILD Lethbridge executive officer, Bridget Mearns, said she organized the round table conversation because she have heard from multiple members that some vandalism was happening on their sites.

“It was important for me to have a larger conversation about how often this is happening, where and why is happening. I was happy to have a conversation with our Lethbridge Police Service because we work together on solving these things,” said Mearns.

She said it was important to talk about it, to give LPS an idea of the impact these crimes are having on the industry, and for them to be aware of how often it is really happening.

Breedon echoed her words in the importance of creating awareness of the issue, as he said that if they do not know it is happening, they are unable to do something about it.

“We have to work off what is reported to us,” said Breedon.

He said that as much as it is important for builders to report construction site crime, it is also important for members of the community to do so as well.

“We’re asking that if you know some of these new homes under construction, or they are backing onto existing homes, or close to already lived-in homes, we would ask that the individuals that are living there just be cognizant and aware of unfamiliar or suspicious traffic at different hours,” said Breedon.

He said that due to city noise bylaws construction usually happens between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and therefore if members of the community see random vehicles coming through at midnight, or early hours of the morning, to please report it to the non-emergency line.

“It’s no different than someone in the city seeing an individual in their neighbour’s backyard and saying ‘I don’t think I recognize that person’ and they call the police and say there’s a suspicious person in my back alley or my neighbour’s yard,” said Breedon.

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