Cops, builders collaborate on theft prevention
SUMMIT COUNTY – Following a meeting between the county’s law enforcement heads and the builders association last week, cops and contractors are feeling optimistic about stemming the recent rash of construction theft – and possibly even catching the thieves.Police chiefs, detectives and the county sheriff attended the Summit County Builders Association meeting Thursday in Breckenridge, along with representatives of Summit County Crime Stoppers. The meeting was spurred by a string of thefts over the Labor Day weekend that left several contractors stinging from thousands of dollars in losses. In one heist last month, a single contractor was hit for about $40,000 in tools.”It was a very productive meeting,” said Mark Adolph of NWA Builders, an association board member who also volunteered to serve as a liaison between police and builders. “We’re going to put out as much information as we can to our organization, inform them about what’s going on. We’re going to have the police department speak at our November meeting and share some of their ideas. And, at least initially, I’m going to put together a committee to deal with the problem.”Thefts of tools, materials and construction equipment has been a problem in Summit County since growth began. Recently, however, the problem has become acute in that the thieves appear to be organized, brazen and targeting top-dollar booty. Contractors have used numerous preventive measures to protect themselves, including: motion sensitive lighting (thieves cut the power), fences (thieves cut the fences) and lock boxes (thieves drill out the locks or bolts on doors).”This is really affecting the small businesses,” said Felicia Platte, co-owner of Apex Mountain Homes which has suffered several thefts in the past two years. “Most of these companies are small, and the losses can be crippling. Not only that, but it affects other people, from the client to the insurance company.”According to builders and law enforcement officers at the meeting, discussion ranged from theft prevention on the side of contractors (marking tools or engraving them, and recording serial numbers), as well as ways to improve the security of trailers and lock boxes.Pledges came from police to distribute information and reach out to nearby jurisdictions to see if similar crimes are happening elsewhere.”All we need, basically, is one good tip,” said Sheriff John Minor. “Oftentimes, with a property crime, there’s very little evidence and no witnesses. But if we get one tip, that can connect to something else and the ball starts rolling. That’s why we really want them to take measures such as engraving tools and recording serial numbers. What can happen is, say we pull someone over on a DUI; they’ve got tools in the vehicle, and we run a check. If there’s a match to a theft, suddenly we go from a DUI to a possible suspect in these thefts.”The sheriff and police chiefs also said they would be working on “operational” ideas to catch the thieves, but didn’t want to say more for fear of tipping anyone off.Crime Stoppers is also getting into the act, hoping someone with information will be attracted by the rewards offered. Crime Stoppers pays up to $1,000 for information that leads to solved crimes. The builders association board is also considering soliciting its members to raise that reward amount, or provide a matching reward. Tips can be phoned in anonymously by calling (866) 453-STOP.Platte said the association will be distributing plenty of tips and information on theft, and builders don’t need to join to take advantage. The Summit County Builders Association can be reached at (970) 668-6013.Reid Williams can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or at email@example.com.
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