Job site robberies

Thieves target new construction

Galen Scott

Whoever broke into plumber Jessie Marley’s storage trailer and stole $20,000 worth of copper pipe knew exactly where to find it, he said.

Marley, of Forney-based Premier Services, is one of dozens of contractors working on Brock ISD’s new high school. He reported the material missing Tuesday morning.

Another of Marley’s trailers, parked a few feet away from the one that was robbed, wasn’t even touched, he said.

“They went straight to our trailer ... it was somebody that was out here,” Marley said. “Of course, people come in and out of here driving around all the time.”

In response to a rash of thefts that occurred when copper scrap was worth as much as $4 per pound in 2007, many scrap yard operators are now requiring identification and business credentials, making it more onerous for crooks to cash in. Instead, some thieves try to move stolen construction material on the black market.

“All the contractors that I know, if someone came on their job and approached them trying to sell that much copper, they would know that it was stolen and wouldn’t buy it,” Marley said. “But I’m not saying there aren’t some shady contractors around.”

On Wednesday, three trailers full of equipment and material were reportedly hauled off from a church construction site on Bailey Ranch Road in Aledo. Further details were unavailable Thursday morning, but Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said he has a hunch the perpetrators are the same people who stole the copper at the new Brock high school.

In addition to this week’s job site robberies in Brock and Aledo, tools, material and even appliances are turning up missing from new housing developments. According to the Sheriff’s Office, five burglaries from job sites and five from new home construction sites have been reported since Jan. 1.

“Home owners and contractors might as well beware, because these people are working,” Fowler said.

The copper water tube stolen from Brock was cut in 20-foot lengths and varied in diameter from 0.5-inch to 4-inch.

Marley said the material was twice-insured and a replacement supply has already been located. He said the theft will not affect the schools scheduled completion date.

Five palettes of pressure-treated, three-quarter-inch plywood were also stolen, he said. The wood, scheduled for use as roofing material, was valued at approximately $10,000.

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