Three Peaks construction sites ransacked
SUMMIT COUNTY Thieves stole an estimated $50,000 to $100,000 worth of tools and equipment from four, possibly five, construction sites in the upscale Three Peaks at the Raven housing development in Silverthorne, according to Silverthorne police public information officer Verna Pottle.This is a hard hit for these guys, Pottle said, referring to local contractors who were victimized.The culprits struck the sites sometime Friday night, and although police dont have evidence connecting the crimes, Pottle said its probable theyre related based on the time frame and locations of the burglaries.One possible lead came Friday just after midnight when a Silverthorne officer pulled over a van in the Three Peaks neighborhood for a basic traffic violation a burnt out headlight or making an erratic turn Chief Kent Donahue said.The officer noticed about 20 to 30 pieces of equipment inside the van, which was impounded, but the driver was released.I wish we had somebody in custody, Donahue said. At the time of the traffic stop, police didnt know the thefts had occurred and didnt have cause to arrest the driver. They had traffic charges on them and little else, he said.At this point, police cant say for sure the driver was involved in the crimes or whether or not the tools in the van were stolen. The department is in the process of obtaining a search warrant for the vehicle.Donahue believes more than one person is responsible for the burglaries because of the amount of property stolen.Unfortunately, the crimes were inevitable, he said.This is the first part of the warming up portion of the season, Donahue said. It was just a matter of where it was going to crop up first.Last spring, thieves made off with tens of thousands of dollars worth of tools during a string of thefts in Silverthorne, Breckenridge and unincorporated areas of Summit County.So far this season, contractors working in Breckenridge have been fortunate.Police responded to one attempted burglary in late April at a construction site on Highway 9, but nothing had been taken.Regardless, Breckenridge police are being proactive about prevention.Detective George Hughes said the department will continue to build on an educational approach it began last year to inform local builders on how to keep their equipment safe.Also, the towns building departments hands out a pamphlet with tips to everyone who applies for a building permit.Once a permit is granted, the department e-mails the police department so it can add the site to its patrol list.Officers also meet regularly with the Summit County Builders Association to help company owners get the message across to their foreman and site supervisors.Hughes and Pottle agree that cooperation from local contractors is paramount to ending the thefts.Its a crime of opportunity, Hughes said. If (contractors) take the opportunity away by not leaving the tools there, it wont happen.That approach has worked for Brian Platte of Apex Mountain Homes, who lost at least $25,000 worth of tools in last years crime spree.Since then, he purchased a $2,500 heavy-duty overseas shipping container in which to store his valuable tools and equipment and hasnt had any problems.Is that spendy, yeah, but when you put it into perspective of $25,000 worth of tools someone can lose, its not, Platte said.Platte rotates the container to all his remote job sites around the county where there are no neighbors to watch for suspicious activity and so far, its been well worth the money.We had gone through every other trick in the book: We painted tools different colors, we engraved tools, we had used classic construction trailers, but you can cut into those, we had tried security- motion detectors, but nothing seems to deter (the thieves), he said. The best advice police can give builders is to know who your employees are many thefts are thought to be inside jobs because of the high turnover rates on job sites.Also, mark your tools so they can be returned if they show up at a pawn shop somewhere on the Front Range.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Conduct background checks on laborers, subcontractors and others with access to the construction site. Record a license number, local address and vehicle description for each person. Place materials in a fenced, secured enclosure, or in a locked building. Lighting should be used whenever electricity is available or motion security lights. Electrical power tools should be registered, by serial number, with records kept in a secure location. All tools should be inscribed with the company name or personal Identification. In areas where extensive thefts have occurred, contractors may wish to consider pooling resources for fenced storage, overnight security officers, or rotating shifts of night watchmen. Contractors are encouraged to distribute Summit County Crimestoppers information at each site and with employee paychecks.Courtesy: Layne Consultants International and the Summit County Builders Association
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