Builders asking for extra patrols after thefts at construction sites

Builders asking for extra patrols after thefts at construction sites (KXAN Photo)
Builders asking for extra patrols after thefts at construction sites (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Some builders are asking for law enforcement to help keep a closer eye on properties that are being targeted by thieves.

At Easton Park near Del Valle, most of the homes are still under construction. Only a few neighbors have moved in and they aren’t surprised to learn that their neighborhood is being targeted. Alex Acosta recently ran off a thief after hearing a loud noise. “I head the noise a couple minutes later,” said Acosta, “[I pointed] a flashlight on the guy… at that point he definitely took off.”

Others are just keeping a watchful eye. Eric Arroyo said “I hear cars driving by, I look out the window, I’m just observing.”

On Sunday night, a Travis County Sheriff’s deputy witnessed a pickup leaving the same neighborhood and loaded with plywood. The deputy was able to stop the driver, but he ran off. The passenger was arrested and charged with theft. That same night there was another arrest in East Austin. A security guard noticed a dark pickup parked at a construction site. Investigators say the thieves there were swiping plywood.

Builders tell KXAN it’s not uncommon for doors, sheetrock and tools to be stolen.

According to a recent study, the number of new homes under construction in the Austin metro-area is the highest in a decade. Realtors say the pace of home construction in Williamson County is extraordinary, and nearly everything is being sold. The Austin Board of Realtors says the demand is so high it’s difficult to find a new home in the city of Austin for under $400,000.

As for Acosta and his neighbors, they’re not taking any chances. He’s even installed cameras around his house. “I knew there was going to be construction in here for some time, and I wanted to make sure that I knew at least what was going on at my house to protect against things like that.”

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office says it’s not unusual for deputies to be around construction sites and often the property owners will ask for what’s called a “Close Patrol” or an extra eye on properties that may be targets.

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