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Residential construction site thefts on the rise in Edmonton area

Global News logo Global News 2021-08-01 Chris Chacon
a close up of a cage: Lumber at a construction site in Edmonton. © Chris Chacon/Global News Lumber at a construction site in Edmonton.

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It's been a busy and stressful season for many Edmonton homebuilders.

Not only are they facing high costs of supplies, but they are also dealing with building materials being stolen.

It started as a typical day on the job for homebuilder Ken Kapty until he noticed something out of place.

"The cables for electrical were buried a long time ago, months ago along the concrete [building], and some guy came at night and cut the tails off the cables," Kapty said.

Read more: Edmonton homebuilders experience unexpected boom in business

Kapty said the amount of aluminum in the stolen cables was only worth pennies at a scrap yard, but the entire price to replace them will cost a pretty penny.


Video: Residential construction site thefts on the rise in Edmonton area (Global News)

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"They got to dig this all out. That's a day's work of digging and whatever cable they have to buy new again to bury and then put the dirt back and repack it. That's a couple thousand dollars if not three," Kapty explained.

The Canadian Home Builders Association Edmonton Region said thefts at residential construction worksites have been a growing issue over the last several years and have only gotten worse over the pandemic.

Read more: Man arrested after toilets, granite counters, vehicles stolen from Edmonton construction sites

"Sometimes, there's upwards of tens of thousands of dollars in material stolen from a job site and it is ultimately borne by the residential construction industry, so the builder has to absorb the cost of the stolen items and then the cost of replacing those items and the labour that might go with it," CEO Laura Bruno said.

With the high cost of materials, including lumber, Kapty said this most recent theft was just one of many he's encountered. Not long ago in a separate incident, he said he even caught a few thieves red-handed.

"I took a picture of the plate. He wasn't all that worried. I took a picture of him. He wasn't worried but when I phoned 911, he pushed a bike out of the way and scooted out," Kapty said.

Read more: Northwest Edmonton building in early construction stage damaged after windy evening

Kapty said the men hauling away lumber used a false licence plate to cover up the vehicle's actual plate. He said this incident and others have been reported to police.

"It's incredibly important for both the residential construction industry as well as the community members to keep their eyes out and be reporting all this to the Edmonton police so they know where to allocate resources," Bruno said.

Bruno said while reporting thefts will help police identify hot spots, there are still several other anti-theft measures builders can take, such as locking up tools, documenting all serial numbers and product types, marking materials with a specific colour of spray paint or bringing in security.

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