It has been a busy and stressful season for many builders in Edmonton.

Not only do they have to contend with high utility costs, but also with building materials that are stolen.

It started like a typical working day for house builder Ken Kapty, until he noticed something inappropriate.

“The electrical cables were buried along the concrete a long time ago, months ago [building], and at night a guy came and cut the tails off the cables, ”Kapty said.

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Kapty said the amount of aluminum in the stolen cables was only worth a penny in a junkyard, but the total price to replace them will be a pretty penny.

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“You have to dig this all up. This is a day’s work of digging and each cable has to be bought new to bury it and then to stow and repackage the dirt again. That’s a few thousand dollars, if not three, ”Kapty explained.

Canada’s Home Builders Association, Edmonton area, said thefts from residential construction sites had been a growing problem in recent years and only got worse as the pandemic worsened.

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“Sometimes more than tens of thousands of dollars in material is stolen from a construction site and ultimately borne by the housing industry, so the builder pays for the stolen items and then the cost of replacing those items and the labor involved,” said CEO Laura Bruno.

Given the high cost of materials, including wood, Kapty said this recent theft was just one of many it has come across. Not so long ago, in a separate incident, he said he even caught a couple of thieves in the act.

“I took a picture of the plate. He wasn’t very worried. I photographed him. He wasn’t worried, but when I called 911 he pushed a bike out of the way and slipped away, ”Kapty said.

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Kapty said the men who hauled wood used a fake license plate to cover up the vehicle’s actual license plate. He said this incident and others had been reported to the police.

“It is incredibly important for both the housing industry and community members to keep their eyes peeled and report all of this to the Edmonton Police Department so they know where to allocate resources,” said Bruno.

Bruno said while reporting thefts will help police identify hotspots, there are some other anti-theft measures that builders can take, such as security.

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