Thursday, March 15, 2001

Police target builder thefts

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — The building boom here is attracting thieves looking to steal construction equipment.

        West Chester Township police recently arrested three men who they said are part of a growing theft trend throughout the Tristate that has targeted residential and commercial construction sites.

        Early on March 8, police along Interstate 75 pulled over a rented truck for an equipment violation. They discovered $3,000 in stolen tools and equipment that investigators eventually traced to seven construction sites in this Butler County township.

        Two Covington men, Scott W. Beach, 34, of the 1300 block of Banklick Street. and Kenny M. Miller, 37, of the 3700 block of Decoursey Avenue, were charged with three felony counts of break ing and entering.

        A day later West Chester police arrested another man, George Torline, 31, of the 500 block of West River Road in Silver Grove, Ky., in a unrelated incident. Mr. Torline was arrested near 4700 Muhlhauser Road and was charged with receiving stolen goods consisting of construction tools.

        Throughout the Tristate, thefts of construction vehicles, equipment, tools and appliances are on the rise, say police and insurance officials.

        In Ohio, the loss from construction site thefts is in excess of $200 million a year, said Glenn Drees, loss-control consultant at Schiff, Kreidler-Shell, an agency that provides insurance and risk services to contractors.

        In Kentucky, the loss is estimated at $150 million annually, Mr. Drees said.

        West Chester Police Lt. Commander Gil Flick said the three recent arrests are the result of increased patrols of township construction sites. But the large number of construction sites in the booming community, combined with warmer weather and night-time work “sometimes makes monitoring the sites difficult.”

        “We are aware of the problem and are continuing our efforts to curtail it,” Lt. Flick said.

        The police efforts are being aided by more aggressive private security and greater cooperation and communication from construction firms.

        Last month officials from Schumacher Dugan Construction Inc., a commercial and industrial builder based in West Chester Township, said they cut theft losses from $10,000 in 1997 to $2,000 last year after installing alarms on tool trailers and notifying local police of where their jobs are located.

        The company uses private security to protect larger projects nearing completion.


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