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Cracking down on construction theft

Posted at 7:19 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 19:23:16-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Building materials that took days to order are now taking months. If things get stolen, it could take longer than a year to finish a build. So, the Lee County Sheriff assigned a detective specifically for construction sites.

Adrian Waring’s phone has been ringing off the hook lately. His clients looking to buy a home are scrambling to snatch one up in an inventory desert, or resorting to alternatives.

“If they can’t find what they want, they’ll build it, but it means you’ve got to wait,” he said.

But, thieves aren’t wasting anytime. They’re plotting on more builds to steal scarce supplies. Before it gets out of hand, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno says his office is being proactive.

“Assigning a detective that all he does is get in front of it, he educates all the contractors,” he said in a Facebook Live video.

Thursday he announced the department’s new Construction Special Investigations or CSI initiative.

Waring works with Priceless Realty in Cape Coral, and their construction partner Lauren Homes has mostly seen lumber theft from their builds. He says that problem is bigger than you may think.

“Because lumber has gone up considerably over the last five months. It’s pretty much doubled,” he said.

Inventory in Cape Coral where Waring is based is on a downwards trend going from nearly 2,000 listings in recent years, to a measly 400 last month. So, Waring says his team is doing everything to protect those new builds.

“We ask the neighbors around, ‘Can you can an eye out? And if you see people doing things, let us know,” he said.

The sheriff’s office says the detective assigned to the CSI initiative will work with the construction industry to prevent crimes and investigate them.