Job site thefts have police asking for help
Truckee police detectives hoping to stem a rash of tool thefts from construction sites in the area are asking contractors and the general public for help.
“I know that a lot of the thefts go unreported because guys think they won’t get their gear back and it’s their fault for leaving it out,” said Detective Robert Womack. “But if they don’t tell us, we don’t have anywhere to go look.”
Since the beginning of February, Womack said the police department has received eight reports of tool thefts from job sites totaling more than $50,000 in losses, with the greatest being $25,000 worth of tools stolen from a job site on Brockway Road over the weekend. And as the summer construction season heats up, that number is bound to rise, Womack said.
Most of the thefts have been taking place at night over the weekends, after work crews have gone home, Womack said. No suspects have been identified at this time, and he said detectives have no real leads as to where the tools might be going.
“Everybody wants to point fingers at day laborers, and that might be true to some extent. But I don’t think a day laborer backs a truck up and takes $20,000 worth of tools,” Womack said.
“We’re not sure it’s all the same person. I think the big ones are a little more organized. If you’re going to take 70 items ” 10 nailing guns, framing guns ” you’ve got to know what to take and what’s good and what’s bad.
“On the other hand, some of [the thefts] have been a couple of cordless drills and tool pouches. And those guys could be day laborers who need tools to be able to work.”
Most of the tool thefts happen at job sites where tools are not locked up or secured in any manner, said Truckee police Detective Marty Schoenberg.
In addition, many of the victims had not marked their tools with names or any kind of identifying markings, which makes it even more difficult for the police to return stolen tools they do find.
Womack recommended using an engraver to scratch a name and phone number onto all tools at a job site, as last summer the police department recovered several expensive items that had been stolen from local construction sites and hadn’t ever been reported stolen.
Womack also warned contractors to be wary of people selling tools door to door.
“If he’s selling them out of the back of his truck, you know they’re stolen,” Womack said. “What we ask people to do is give us a license plate or a quick description ” something so that we know where to go find these guys. Because if they show up to sell you stolen tools, they’re also looking at what your tools are to decide if they’re going to grab them.”
Contractors are asked to call the Truckee Police Department at 550-2320 any time they see someone acting suspicious or selling tools out of the back of their vehicle.
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