Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Residential Construction Site Theft

Like many other areas of the country, our region (Spokane-Kootenai County) has experienced construction site theft. It's not surprising. Building materials, tools and equipment, and appliances are easily sold to those willing to buy stolen property. In many instances, construction site thieves are members of well organized theft rings. The illegal buyers are well aware of deficient state laws that use high dollar loss amounts to differentiate between felonies and misdemeanors. These buyers are exceptionally skilled at accurately appraising the dollar value of the goods they are going to buy. They're equally adept at identifying prosecuting attorneys who don't aggressively prosecute property crimes.

So what can be done to reduce construction site theft?

Cities and counties can take a greater interest in understanding its economic impact on the community. The city of Tempe, Arizona, has recognized the problem and has published a builder's guide entitled Construction Site Theft.

In 2003 the US Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS), created Reducing Theft at Construction Sites: Lessons from a Problem-Oriented Project. This study revealed some practices the construction industry could follow at very little cost.

Then in August 2006 the COPS published a guide, Burglary at Single-Family House Construction Sites. "This guide begins by describing the problem of burglary at single-family house construction sites and reviewing the factors that increase risks. It then identifies a series of questions that can help analyze your local burglary problem. Finally, it reviews responses to the problem of burglary at single-family house construction sites as identified through research and police practice."

The 2006 COPS guide acknowledges but does not address some closely related areas requiring separate analysis. These areas are:
  • Burglary and theft at commercial, apartment, and condominium construction sites
  • Burglary of single-family houses
  • Theft of heavy construction equipment
  • Theft of scrap metal
  • Stolen goods markets
  • Vandalism at construction sites
  • Insurance fraud


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