Three people were arrested and one is still at large in connection to the theft of thousands of dollars worth of stolen lumber and building materials in Parker, Tarrant and Johnson counties, officials say.
The suspects took windows valued at more than $5,000 and plywood valued at more than $40,000 from construction sites in the Aledo and Weatherford areas in June, Parker County Sheriff Russ Authier said.
The sheriff's office said authorities tracked the men to Fort Worth, where the stolen building material was stored at residences, using security video recordings.
Sheriff's deputies arrested 19-year-old Ivan Dominguez, 45-year-old Carlos Mendoza and 17-year-old Nathan Baez in connection to the thefts.
Authorities are still looking for 18-year-old Octavio Perez, who has an active warrant for felony theft.
"Once the cases are completed, they will be forwarded to the Parker County District Attorney’s Office for prosecutions," Authier said. “Our investigators worked diligently to locate the suspects and recover the stolen building materials. All property was accounted for through proof of purchase with the assistance of the lumber companies. We are pleased to be able to return the stolen items to the victims."
Matthew Scurry, an investigator with the Parker County Sheriff's Office, said all four suspects have ties to the construction industry.
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"What they would do is they would filter that back through peers or other people that go in and do the subcontracting work where they already have the materials, but they would already bid these homeowner companies or homebuilders the real price," Scurry said. "Of course, they were getting the material at a much lower cost."
The round of thefts began about three months ago, according to Scurry. Recently, lumber prices have been driven to high levels resulting from a combination of lumber supply shortages and elevated demand. Mark Johnson, CEO of JPAR Real Estate, prices at their peak this year have not seen since 1978.
Prices have steadily decreased as pandemic restrictions have eased and relieved production disruptions, Johnson said.
"The 52 week futures of lumber this year have been as high as $1,600 a board foot and as low as $350 a board foot," he said. "They’re currently at about $750 a board foot."