Nearly $ 400,000 in equipment taken in series of thefts from construction sites in St. George, Washington City – St George News

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ST. GEORGE – Hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment were recently stolen from construction sites, a type of crime that has seen a recent rise in both St. George and Washington City, where thieves can turn expensive equipment. cash quickly.

Image bank | Photo by Adam Calitzis / iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Washington City Police Lt. Kory Klotz told St. George News that the latest round of burglaries took place Monday evening and continued until the early hours of Tuesday morning.

A total of six construction sites were affected across the city of Washington that night alone, he said, adding that the thefts had been reported from sites near Maverick on Hoodoo Way, just outside the city. east of Interstate 15 to construction sites in the Warner Valley area near the Southern Parkway interchange.

“They went around and struck all over Washington city,” he said.

Klotz said the flights were not limited to specific equipment either. In fact, he said, the reports included all types of construction tools and even larger equipment. Additionally, he said, the suspects nearly emptied more than one of the trailers and even removed a large compactor that was attached to a flatbed trailer after removing the chain that secured the equipment.

“You name it, they took it – everything,” he said.

In total, he said more than $ 100,000 of equipment and tools were stolen in Monday’s crime spree. He said they suspected they were the same group of suspects hitting the sites and were able to amass a large amount of stolen equipment in a short period of time.

In St. George, authorities are seeing a similar increase in thefts involving construction sites, St. George Police Officer Tiffany Mitchell said, adding that the increase had taken place in recent months and involved the at least 20 separate reports. Similar to Washington City, she added, at least $ 100,000 worth of equipment has been removed from the various sites in total.

In this 2020 file photo of the construction site near the “North Addition,” part of the St. George Temple renovation project that began in November 2019, St. George, Utah November 6, 2020 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

But those numbers are not included in a recent reported burglary at the temple site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in East 400 South, where nearly $ 200,000 in construction equipment was washed away. early Tuesday morning, she said.

Incidents between the two agencies are still under investigation.

Asset protection to stop rising costs of theft on construction sites

To deal with the surge in criminal activity, the police department has increased patrols in some of the hardest hit areas, Klotz said, but even the enhanced police presence can do little to deter activity since thefts occur over such a large area – across town.

To that end, Klotz said trailers left on construction sites are a prime target for thieves. To reduce that risk, he said trailers should be removed from the construction site at the end of the working day.

Statistics show that the most common cause of theft on construction sites is inadequate site security, which makes it easier for thieves to steal equipment, and around $ 400 million in tools and equipment each year. are stolen from construction sites in the United States, according to Great American insurance.

As such, maintaining some form of surveillance of a site will help reduce the risk of theft, he said, which is crucial to avoiding the high costs of replacing equipment, even so the stolen equipment is sold quickly for pennies on the dollar.

Barring a live security guard, a well-placed security camera will not only deter theft, but also provide information about thieves if a theft occurs, Klotz added. Installing a quality CCTV system is the best thing to do when it comes to protecting a homeowner’s investment, given the large amount of money that is usually tied to building materials. and equipment needed in the construction industry.

Additionally, equipping the site with high-quality lighting can also protect the site and even deter criminals, he said, as thieves tend to prefer to work in the dark where they can. go in and out unseen, and if the thieves have a reason to believe they are going to get caught, they will move on to another easier target.

Other safety options are also available, including the installation of a GPS tracking system, which sends a text as soon as a piece of equipment leaves the job site.

Additionally, Klotz said keeping a record of every piece of equipment, as well as serial numbers, can help officers identify items if they are stolen – information that was missing in the theft reported this. week. Record keeping is also important, as pawn shops document the serial number of every item they take, if available.

“Serial numbers are essential for recovering stolen goods,” Klotz said. “This way we can determine what was stolen and who is the rightful owner.”

Construction sites are common targets for theft and vandalism, but taking steps to discourage this type of activity not only reduces the losses suffered by each site owner, but also makes the area less attractive to criminal networks who target vulnerable areas.

Deterring this type of criminal activity has benefits that go beyond a wave of crime or a particular incident, he said, as it makes southern Utah a less profitable area. – which often discourages criminal activity.

This report is based on statements from police, emergency personnel or other responders and may not contain all of the findings.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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