Excavator stolen in broad daylight from Kelowna construction site valued at $40,000. Photo: Capital News files

Construction site theft frustrates Central Okanagan builders

Underground economy creates market for stolen equipment

Equipment theft is a frustration that continues to plague the Central Okanagan construction industry.

Les Bellamy, president of the Central Okanagan chapter of the Canadian Home Builders Association, says it’s an issue that tends to occur in waves.

“There will be a large rash of thefts and then it will go quiet for a bit and start up again,” Bellamy said.

“It is a pattern that is pretty consistent across the Central Okanagan.”

That frustration was recently vented by TNC Escavating president Troy Chapman in media reports after he had a 2015 John Deere 26G excavator stolen from a job site at Dilworth Drive and Enterprise Way on Sunday, Nov. 18, sometime during the day.

RELATED: Security guard attacked with bear spray on construction site

Chapmans said the equipment was worth $40,000, and came on the heels of the theft of 300 litres of fuel worth a value of $400.

That report led to a marketing firm for BigSteelBox issuing a news release about the value of avoiding theft on construction sites with secure storage such as that company’s containers.

Bellamy, president Bellamy Brothers home design company in Kelowna, says one of the driving factors behind construction site theft is the underground economy.

“People wouldn’t be stealing equipment if there wasn’t a market for it to be sold. While the RCMP want to catch the people stealing the equipment, I think it’s also important to understand who is buying that equipment at likely cheaper than normal market prices to use for their own construction work,” he said.

“It’s one thing to see an awesome deal for a piece of equipment, but if the seller can’t produce receipts or any history of the product you need to question where it originated from. Like I learned back in Kindergarten, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“At the end of the day, those costs get passed on to the consumer and is one more thing that has an impact on housing affordability.”

Bellamy knows first-hand of what it’s like to be victimized, from seeing his equipment stolen back when he was a framing contractor to the theft this year of lighting fixtures from one house project, valued at $7,000, to plumbing fixtures in another house under construction, which pushed $20,000 in value.

“I really struggled with the plumbing one because we have insurance, but if you make a claim your rates go up,” he said.

Bellamy said storage containers on site can be helpful for security, but they also experienced the theft of a generator from such a unit. The equipment was rented and cost him $4,000 to replace it.

“I think containers help reduce the risk of someone passing by a construction site and deciding to steal something in the spur of the moment, but it is hard to stop a theft that is thought out in advance with intent,” he said.

He said video surveillance also can help, but it becomes problematic to set up on an evolving construction site that requires it be constantly relocated for clear visual sightlines.



barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Thousands soak up Downtown Vernon Sunshine Festival

One-day annual event a hit with residents and visitors

Still room for golfers in KidSport tournament

Inaugural KidSport Greater Vernon Golf Tournament goes Thursday at Vernon Golf and Country Club

Arrested suspect connected to string of North Okanagan robberies

Man arrested after failed robbery at Enderby store may be involved in four other such crimes

Upper Room Mission grieves sudden deaths of two Vernon women

Mehgan and Teresa died in Vernon earlier this month — one from a fatal overdose, the other, a casualty of a high-risk lifestyle

Elected officials lobby for government grants for Vernon cultural centre

Planning process underway for the $40 million project

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

South Okanagan retired nurse’s petition read in House of Commons

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

Hergott: Contribution and Expectation of a will

Lawyer Paul Hergott continues his column on wills

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

Beloved South Okanagan baker dies

Beloved baker Ben Manea died suddenly on June 15, bakery to operate for one final week

Knife-wielding man robs South Okanagan pizza shop

RCMP are looking for the suspect who was wearing a ski mask

Most Read