Lumber Prices Drop, But Crime Rates at Lumber Yards and Construction Sites Remain High

As troublesome as this is for both homebuilders and homeowners from a financial perspective, the consequences of skyrocketing lumber costs extend beyond the wallet.

Lumber prices have soared more than 250% over the past year, causing the price of new home builds to significantly increase alongside it.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, lumber prices have “caused the price of an average new single-family home to increase by $35,872.” Supporting this finding, one customer told us: “We used to build four homes for what it now costs to build one.” 

Thieves have taken notice of the escalating value of lumber and are increasingly targeting lumber yards, construction sites and contractors.

In fact, Business Insider reports: “Lumber prices are so high they’ve created an entire black market.” 

Lumber Theft on the Rise

Lumber prices are finally trending downward after reaching an all-time high in May, but prices are still up from where we were last year, and, as with any hot commodity, criminals want to cash in.

In fact, the lumber crisis that has plagued the industry over the past year has created a perfect storm for thieves.

Prices are high, supply is low, people are willing to pay to finish residential and commercial projects, and online sites such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are making it easier than ever for thieves to sell stolen lumber and other building materials. 

One customer told us that, prior to the rising lumber prices, appliances were the biggest target on construction sites. Today, thieves’ favorite target is lumber.

According to the customer: “A single theft a year-and-a-half ago might have cost us $2,500 – but today that number is more like $10,000.”

Here are a few examples of lumber theft incidents that have occurred in just the past two months:

  • In June, the King County Sheriff’s Office in Washington reported a thief stole 32 pieces of lumber from a locked lumber yard, with the estimated dollar value landing at more than $2,300.
  • In Fort Myers, Florida, in May, a criminal stole 144 sheets of plywood valued at approximately $10,000 from a neighborhood community construction site. 
  • Also in May, a thief stole $5,000 worth of lumber from a Denver construction site. Kyle Arienta, owner of Precision Design, a renovation and construction design company, told CBS4 Denver: “Seven months ago, that was probably worth $1,500 and they probably wouldn’t want to steal it.”

Incidents like these are happening all over the U.S. And, in addition to the financial impact associated with stolen lumber, lumber yards, contractors, home builders and construction companies are having to spend time, resources and budget repairing property damage inflicted during the crime.

As a result, even one lumber theft could cost the victim thousands of dollars. 

Protect Your Product and Property 

Lumber theft isn’t going away anytime soon, and lumber yards, construction sites and other businesses that store lumber must protect their properties from the influx of attacks.

Intelligent video surveillance systems powered by artificial intelligence (AI), such as Pro-Vigils’,  remain the most efficient and cost-effective option to secure lumber, other valuable assets and your property.

These systems go beyond catching a criminal in the act, by preventing the crime with proactive deterrence. 

In addition to using an intelligent video monitoring system, here are a few additional tips to help you implement an iron-clad physical security strategy:

  • Create a perimeter – Fencing serves as your first line of defense against criminals. However, it’s not enough to simply have this perimeter in place. You must make sure entry points and gates are locked at the end of each workday and that any holes are patched as soon as they are detected.
  • Light up your site – Criminals often operate under the cover of darkness, so keeping your entire site – from the outside in – well-lit is an effective crime deterrent. 
  • Keep onsite materials lean – This might be tough in some cases, but whenever possible, keep as little lumber and other building materials onsite as possible. Less inventory means fewer targets for thieves to pick from.
  • Secure valuables – If you do have to store lumber and other materials onsite, make sure they are securely stored at the end of each shift, rather than leaving them out in the open. 

To learn additional best practices and more about how intelligent video surveillance can deter crime on your property, contact Pro-Vigil today.

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