Homebuilders offer reward for stolen lumber

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COLORADO SPRINGS — The nationwide lumber shortage is compounding in Colorado Springs as builders are reporting an “unprecedented amount” of theft from building sites.

“We are a magnet for theft, we can’t secure this type of site,” said Renee Zentz, the CEO of the Colorado Springs Home Builders Association.

Lumber, paint, roofing materials, and even appliances have been stolen from the skeletons of homes under construction, at nearly all large developments in the area.

Now, some are working with Pikes Peak Area Crime Stoppers, in order to put a stop to those crimes.

“You’re looking at multi-family, commercial, single-family home, it’s all over,” said Ron Lais, the General Manager of Builder FirstSource, the nation’s largest supplier of structural building products and based in Colorado Springs.

Lais said that thieves have even tried to steal lumber from their yard, but security chased them off first. The cost of the supplies stolen is adding $5,000-$10,000 to the cost of the home and as much as $30,000 on larger projects.

“We’re working to provide affordable housing, but material theft is making it very difficult and driving up our cost.” said Nick Starkey, the director production at Vantage Homes.

The shortage of lumber has already increased the cost of a home by $60,000-$100,000 itself and when combined with the cost of the materials being stolen, is pricing people out of the market.

Zentz said that for every $1,000 houses price increases, 250 people are priced out.

The thefts are impacting construction schedules as well because orders can take weeks or months due to the national shortage. With Colorado Springs already 26,000 homes short of what the city needs, builders are struggling to get ahead of the market.

“There isn’t the supply for the demand, so you’re seeing [materials] go out on the black market, taking the opportunity to make money off of something in this time,” said Steve Schlosser, the construction manager for Classic Homes.

Zentz said that, in her conversations with law enforcement, there are some strategies law enforcement has begun to utilize in order to stop theives, though, in order to not to tip off the criminals, they are not sharing them at this time.

In the meantime, if you have information on construction theft, you’re asked to call your local police or, if you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 719-634-STOP. If the information you provide leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a reward.

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