By Sheriff Carmine Marceno
Last August, I reached out to a number of areas in our county regarding the theft of materials, tools and appliances from new construction sites. In response to this growing nationwide issue, I formed the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Construction Theft Unit and dedicated significant resources in an effort to proactively address the matter and to respond to reported thefts.
While it appears that this unit has functioned effectively, the increase in new construction has both increased demand for materials and increased theft opportunities.
While we will continue to utilize required resources to prevent and investigate construction site crimes, the most successful law enforcement efforts require community concern and involvement.
Statistics reflecting criminal activity in Lee County have continued to decline, each year, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office is working diligently to see this trend continue. Without pause, I thank the citizens and guests of Lee County who reach out to us and share their suspicions, concerns and ideas.
Once again, we are in need of your assistance.
Throughout the county, we see concrete slabs, roofing materials, excavating machinery, tools, etc.
In varying stages of completion, these sites are vulnerable to theft of machinery, appliances, cabinetry, paint supplies, doors, flooring…and much more.
The state, as a whole, is experiencing these thefts and working to address them. This is, in no way, unique to Lee County.
Nationwide, an estimated $1 billion of materials are stolen annually from construction sites…Florida ranks third in the nation behind California and Texas.
According to insurance reports, the majority of theft occurs between Friday at 6:00 pm and Monday’s early morning hours.
Water systems, well equipment, air conditioning units and kitchen/laundry appliances are also taken at a disconcerting rate.
Your assistance is invaluable!
Contact the Lee County Sheriff’s Office immediately (239-477-100 non-emergency / 9-1-1 emergency) should you suspect construction-site theft or observe:
• Vehicles or individuals at the construction site during the evening and overnight hours.
• Loud noises during these darkened periods. This should raise red flags!
• Juveniles as they have no reason for being at or near construction locations.
• Flashlights and cellphone lights after dark.
• Suspicious vehicles parked in driveways or on the property…especially if equipment, appliances or materials are being loaded INTO/ONTO the vehicles.
Until next month…I thank you for your support and for your diligence!