Herald JournalHerald Journal, Nov. 22, 2004

Construction site thefts becoming more common

By Ryan Gueningsman

Construction workers generally keep themselves busy during the day, working on whatever project or job site they are at.

When they leave that job site, and head for home – the thieves come out to roam. McLeod County has seen an abundance of such construction site thefts, including one in the Lester Prairie area.

There was also the theft of items from a building site in Montrose on Second Street South Oct. 9, as well as a residential burglary in Woodland Township Nov. 4, commented Lieutenant Dan Anselment of the Wright County Sheriff’s Department.

“Knock on wood, we haven’t had many thefts in your area,” he said. “It’s way more prevalent in the northern part of the county.”

Construction sites in the St. Michael and Otsego areas are getting hit hard, he said.

“It’s all over the place,” added Lester Prairie Police Chief Bob Carlson, who is currently investigating the theft of a $400 generator and some white facia, valued at about $600. These items were taken from a site in East Park Estates in Lester Prairie between Oct. 29 and Nov. 1.

The generator is green and includes a broken-off top on the oil dipstick, Carlson said. The owner of the equipment was unable to provide any type of make, model, or serial number.

“People need to have serial numbers written down,” Carlson said. “If we can get serial numbers, we can run them through Automated Pawn Systems (APS) to see if anything comes up stolen.”

APS is a branch of the Minneapolis Police Department, Carlson said. A serial number can be entered into the system, and if a match comes up, police have good odds of tracing the piece of equipment that was stolen.

“We’ve solved burglaries using that,” he said. He also said that pawn shops are not supposed to take anything without serial numbers.

“Most of these are crimes of opportunity,” Anselment said. “Some people might see things there and take them.”

Both lawmen stressed the need for construction workers to take equipment home and lock it up when not in use. Even locking equipment in trailers on site isn’t always safe.

“In years past, we’ve had problems with people breaking into trailers,” Anselment said.

“People need to keep their eyes open,” Carlson said. “If some vehicle they’re not used to is coming to a construction site at weird times, please report activity to local authorities.”

Several other thefts have occurred over the past few weeks across the tri-county area.

Sgt. Rich Gronlund of the McLeod County Sheriff’s Department is noticing a pattern of similar construction site thefts along the Highway 7 corridor, beginning in Hennepin County, and following the highway through Carver and McLeod counties.

The sheriff’s department is investigating the theft of more than $4,000 of construction equipment from a site north of Silver Lake on 245th Street, Nov. 4

Two days prior to that theft complaint, another was received west of Hutchinson on Highway 7, where similar equipment was taken, valuing more than $5,500.

Toward the southern part of McLeod County, deputies are investigating the theft of contracting equipment and other items, with an estimated value of just over $4,100, north of Brownton on Whitney Lake Road, Nov. 5.

Northeast of Hutchinson also saw a theft Nov. 3 in which tools with an estimated value of $4,000 were taken from a site on 200th Street.

In Wright County, the only other theft that has occurred within the last month-and-a-half was a tow-dolly trailer taken from Waverly Oct. 21, Anselment said.

“If people see suspicious activity,” Gronlund said, “the most important thing is to give us a call right away.”

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