COLORADO SPRINGS — It's one of the most difficult crimes to solve right now in the Pikes Peak Region. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in construction materials are being stolen as home builders work to assemble houses in new neighborhoods. Investigators are asking for help to find the suspects.
This year thousands of new homes are being built right here in the Pikes Peak Region. Expensive materials like lumber are left at these sites and criminals are cruising these new neighborhoods getting rich stealing and selling whatever they can find.
"The cost of it, the value of it has made it a greater target. I could go into detail, but it's really that simple," the Managing Director of Vanguard Homes, Mark Long, said.
He says this year thieves have been relentless which increases the price of building a home which ultimately passed down to consumers.
"They obviously keep an eye on our sites and when a fresh batch arrives they seem to know when and where. This year alone our losses I'm pretty sure are approaching six figures," Long said. News5 dug up the crime stats for you.
Just since the start of this year, construction site thefts have led to more than a million dollars in losses in the Pikes Peak Region. Colorado Springs Police Department investigators say they're currently working on at least 150 cases since the start of the year resulting in more than $600,000 in losses. El Paso County Sheriff's Office investigators say they have 100 cases of their own and more than $440,000 dollars in losses.
"They are popping in and out of the city, county, and Fountain and Manitou and wherever these construction areas are going up," Sgt. Jason Garrett of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office explained.
This has now prompted a multi-agency effort to stop crimes like this. Investigators say the people stealing from these new home builds often snatch the pricey construction materials overnight.
"So they are not real heavily populated areas, they are dark areas, not good lighting and we have thousands and thousands of dollars of lumber and other construction materials sometimes days or weeks ahead of time," M.J. Thomson of the Colorado Springs Police Department said.
The new build numbers show just how target-rich the environment is for thieves.
So far this year in the Pikes Peak Region more than 3,000 single-family home build permits have been issued which will cost $1.3 billion in construction. Overall, more than 17,000 construction permits have been issued with a $2.5 billion price tag.
"People are genuinely shocked about the amount of crime that occurs here. This is not LA with street-level crime and all that stuff, we don't really have that here, but we do have a lot of stuff bubbling right under the surface," Sgt. Garrett.
Local home builders are putting up a $1,000 reward for Crime Stoppers tips that lead to arrests. Some arrests are being made, but stolen lumber continues to be sold as investigators try to figure this out.
"They will literally sell it right out of the back of their vehicle, they are using stolen vehicles in some cases, altered license plates, so it becomes very difficult to track some of these vehicles and cases," Thomson explained.
Homebuilders warn if you live near a construction site, you'll want to keep an eye out and be careful.
"These people are violent. They carry weapons," Long warned. "I have caught people that are about to steal and it's not a friendly, oh gee mister sorry we'll leave. There were a lot of threats made. They are bad people."
If you see something suspicious at a construction site investigators want to know about it. License plate numbers, vehicle descriptions, and suspect descriptions are helpful, and remember you can always remain anonymous by calling Pikes Peak Area Crime Stoppers at 634-STOP. If you're able to provide information that leads to an arrest you could be eligible for a $1,000 cash reward.