Expensive home appliances have increasingly become high stakes targets for thieves.
Construction companies, already facing higher materials costs and supply chain issues, said there have been repeated thefts before homes can even be finished.
One of those companies is using new technology to fight back.
Some home builders in the Charlotte area are trying to do their part when it comes to the dire need for more affordable housing, but that hasn’t been easy.
“We’re building affordable housing and when we’re getting multiple thefts at every location, we have to pass that back on the consumer,” said John Lambert, the chief operating officer of PRESPRO Custom Homes based in Harrisburg.
He said the range of items stolen from homes they’re building in Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and Rowan counties, include high-end appliances, framing packages, shingles, doors and water heaters.
It’s really gotten overwhelming over the last year and had an impact on their liability, he said.
“With COVID-19 and supply chain issues, it’s created a higher demand and a low supply,” Lambert said. “We’ve seen a lot more theft.”
He added, that “it typically doesn’t get recovered. There’s no insurance. We basically eat that cost.”
Surveillance cameras and no trespassing signs did little to deter thieves from hitting homes they’re building in Salisbury.
“We decided to move to a tracking device,” Lambert said.
They started to use air tags to track a new stove after it was stolen for a second time from a newly built west Charlotte duplex.
The device tracked the suspect rolling the stove away and across Wingate Park.
A nearby resident’s doorbell camera caught the suspect in its view on video footage.
“It gave police all the information that they needed in order to find the person,” Lambert said.
Police tracked down 56-year-old Lawrence Wesley Falls, who is facing multiple charges, including first-degree burglary, according to warrants.
“You know, maybe the thieves think there’s always theft in construction,” Lambert said. “But I think with new technology, it helps us to give people a second thought about that”
A suspect who was breaking into PRESP Homes Rowan County was also arrested.
It’s not clear if the two suspects were part of the same operation.
(Watch the video below: Men dressed as construction workers accused of stealing plywood from job site)