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Kelowna homebuilder calls for unity against jobsite thieves

Russell Hixson
Kelowna homebuilder calls for unity against jobsite thieves
ISABEY INTERIORS - A home designed by Isabey Interiors. The company has faced increasing incidents of theft at its project sites.

A homebuilding company in Kelowna is at its wits end trying to deal with thieves targeting project sites.

“Typically, in the construction industry, theft has always been somewhat of a concern, but we are starting to see it at a much earlier stage,” said Travis Stacey, manager of Isabey Homes. “It’s at the point where contractors can’t even bring in a lift of wood unless you are actually installing it that day. There are literally lifts of materials leaving the jobsites.”

Thieves have also been targeting electrical wiring, which they cut and tear out of the homes. Stacey believes the incidents are not crimes of opportunity, but instead are carefully planned heists.

“It just seems like we have a lot more organized crime coming into Kelowna. They are very organized,” he said. “They know where the cameras are. They know how to cut power to the house. They know how to black you out and they are coming and going with ease. They are cutting locks on gates. They are backing up and hooking up to trailers.”

Trisha Isabey, the company founder and creative director, explained even when thieves are caught on camera, they are careful to hide their identities by wearing hats, hoodies and keeping their heads down. She added the same thieves have even been known to return to sites to steal more.

“We do all the right things,” she said. “We gate properties, everything is locked up. We have cameras, we have alarm systems.”

Isabey recalled a recent incident where a locked, secured trailer was stolen after thieves smashed through gates and hooked it up.

Stacey explained costs go far beyond just the lost materials.

“We have spent thousands of dollars installing electrical systems, specialized TV lifts, doing automation. These guys come in and just rip it all out,” he said. “So you have drywall damage, you have flooring damage, material damage. We basically are starting over and renovating our newly constructed home.”

Isabey said her company has learned to carry good insurance, ensure security systems are on and keep track of who has access to sites.

She is encouraging trade contractors to not leave tools onsite and to put GPS devices in trailers. 

While she would like to have security guards watching over sites, that option is expensive.

“It is dependent on what a client is prepared to pay,” said Isabey, who noted those costs are already on top of the construction price increases the industry is seeing.

Isabey said she has been floating the idea of joining with other builders in the region to contract a security company to monitor area jobsites. She believes this could cover more sites and bring security costs down.

“Our costs are $1,000 to $1,500 a month just for someone to visit a property at night three or four times,” she said. “If the building community has an appetite to protect their properties, because it costs us all time and money, there should be something we can all do collectively to make this work better for all of us.”

Follow the author on Twitter @RussellReports.


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