Investigators with the Parker County Sheriff’s Office have broken a theft ring that authorities say stole almost $50,000 worth of lumber and building materials in Parker, Tarrant and Johnson counties, according to a news report.
Thieves stole dozens of new windows valued at more than $5,000 from residential construction sites, and more than $40,000 worth of wood including dimensional lumber and hundreds of plywood sheets.
In Parker County, investigators received reports of several hundred sheets of plywood stolen in June from construction sites in the 200 block of Open Sky Lane and the 100 block of Crimson Sky Lane, according to Parker County Today.
Parker County Sheriff Russ Authier said the other lumber and building material thefts had been reported over the past few months.
Lumber supply shortages were met with elevated demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, driving lumber prices to historic levels. Futures prices tipped over $1,600 per 1,000 board feet in May, which is a jump of more than 300% from April 2020, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
But prices have steadily decreased since then, falling by more than 50% to just under $800 per board feet in early July. But they’re still higher than before the pandemic.
Authorities identified four suspects accused in the thefts, all of them from Fort Worth. The suspects who have been arrested were identified as Carlos Mendoza, 45; Ivan Dominguez, 19, and Nathan Baez, 17.
A fourth suspect, Octavio Perez, 18, has a theft warrant, but he has not been arrested.
Authier said in a Thursday news release that the arrests have led to the solving of five theft cases in North Texas.
Security video captured the suspects entering the Morning Star housing addition, taking items from construction sites and loading them in their trucks before fleeing the area.
Investigators tracked the suspects to Fort Worth, where stolen materials were stored at various homes. Pallets of stolen plywood and lumber were covered in tarps found in the back yards of several Fort Worth homes.
Fort Worth, Haltom City and Burleson police assisted in the investigation as did several local lumber and window companies.
“Our investigators worked diligently to locate the suspects and recover the stolen building materials,” Authier said. “All property was accounted for through proof of purchase with the assistance of the lumber companies. We are pleased to be able to return the stolen items to the victims.”