Thieves Targeting Newly Constructed Homes In Raleigh
Posted November 11, 2005 4:38 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — Thieves are targeting new homes with new appliances before the new owners ever move in.
Debbie Lang's washer, dryer and refrigerator were stolen a month before closing as well as those of others along her street.
"They broke a window to come in," she said. "I know a microwave was stolen out of a house in broad daylight."
Then, Lang said her washer and dryer were stolen again.
"We closed on the house. We got a call the next day; the washer and dryer had been stolen again," she said.
North Raleigh, where Lang lives, is the hardest-hit area of the city this year. Even though her builder covered the cost, builders say homeowners end up paying the price.
"Ultimately as with every business, the customer pays the cost for larcery and other crimes at work sites," said Paul Wilms, of the N.C. Home Builders Association.
Raleigh police say public image takes a hit, too.
"We're more interested in preventing the theft than anything else," said Jim Sughrue, a spokeswoman of the Raleigh Police Department.
A new law may do just that. The General Assembly passed a bill that makes it a felony to steal from a construction site anything worth more than $300. The old law made it $1,000 before the crime was a felony.
"By making this a felony, we will be able to encourage, we think, prosecutors to take these cases and prosecute the perpetrators," Wilms said.
Thieves do not just steal what's on the inside of homes. They also go after tools, supplies and even heavy equipment. North Raleigh had 56 construction site thefts reported in the first six months of 2005, which is more than all other areas of the city combined.