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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Three arrests on guns, drug charges after shots fired in Oliver

Two men from Penticton involved in arrests at Oliver home with assault rifles and drugs

Heads up, it’s fawning season in Penticton

Baby deer seen frolicking through downtown Penticton Wednesday afternoon

Okanagan School of the Arts evicted from Penticton’s Shatford Centre

The school faced massive revenue loss during the COVID-19 pandemic

Penticton RCMP express concern over allowing public drinking

RCMP said they expressed their concern to the city but will do their best ensure safety

WATCH: North Okanagan golf cart stolen, then returned

Homeowners have footage of two men taking the cart and then bringing it back

Police watchdog investigating fatal crash in Kelowna

Kelowna RCMP received a report of a single-vehicle collision on Bulman Road near Highway 97 on June 1

Kelowna council greenlights ‘The Wedge’

The wedge-shaped building will be built at the corner of Leon Avenue and Water Street

Vehicle stolen in Revelstoke recovered near Salmon Arm after occupants suffer overdoses

Police say they were alerted to the vehicle after occupants treated by ambulance after drug use

Province looks to seize Kelowna home owned by alleged drug trafficker

Michelle Collins and Nigel Byrne were also recently investigated by Kelowna RCMP for drug trafficking

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Highway 1 closed after body found near Hope

Coroners Service reportedly on the scene, highway has been closed for 10 hours in both directions

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Most Read