Thieves in North Texas are targeting lumber after prices skyrocketed during the pandemic.
"It is a hot commodity," said Officer Jimmy Pollozani with the Fort Worth police department.
Fort Worth police said they are working to solve lumber thefts at new neighborhoods under construction in the northern part of the city. They've added patrols to the area and encouraging builders to install security cameras.
Investigators said thieves recently stole $50,000 worth of lumber from one job site and may be connected to the construction industry.
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"Some of the people we've identified as persons of interest, we've connected the dots," said Officer Pollozani. "Detectives have done an amazing job by determining these people are contractors the actual builder has hired to subcontract."
The Parker County Sheriff's Office said it recently broke up a ring that was targeting lumber and materials at jobs sites across three counties.
It's one more challenge facing builders and buyers in a tight North Texas housing market.
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Already the tripling price of lumber is adding an extra $36,000 to the average cost of a new home in DFW, said Phil Crone with the Dallas Builders Association.
A theft can lead to frustration and delays, though Crone said builders should have insurance to cover the loss.
"For the most part builders will absorb the cost of any thefts that take place," Crone said. "The corresponding cost that will come to the consumer is just when things have to get reordered. Sometimes the price of that lumber has changed and it’s not changed for the better here recently."
The cost of lumber hit a historic high in May, but the price is currently falling, though still higher than it was pre-pandemic.