WINNIPEG – Thieves have taken thousands of dollars worth of tools from locked construction trailers belonging to Habitat for Humanity.
Break-ins at two separate construction sites on two different Sunday nights caused a delay in the building of homes, and it will cost the charity more than $5,000 to replace the donated tools, Habitat for Humanity staff said.
“Now we have to replace them with cash,” said Michelle Pereira, the vice-president of communications for Habitat for Humanity Manitoba.
Habitat staff believe a break-in at a Nairn Avenue construction site on Aug. 10 was interrupted.
Thieves got into a storage trailer that contained food and a lending library of safety equipment but took nothing. However, they stole 18 DeWalt Cordless Drills from a second trailer. Other heavy equipment was removed from that trailer but left behind, possibly as the thieves fled when they were interrupted.
Habitat officials believe the second break-in, on Aug. 17 on Riverton Avenue, was well-planned. The thieves took an entire trailer of tools, including generators, a Bosch mitre saw, Passlode nailers and a DeWalt reciprocating saw.
“They broke into that trailer and cleaned it out,” Pereira said.
Both trailers were locked but the only identifying marks on the tools were numbers painted onto them, Pereira said.
Habitat is currently building 14 homes at the construction sites and the projects have been delayed by the thefts.
The Aug. 17 theft was only discovered when staff arrived to prepare for a “blitz build” by volunteers from the Professional Property Managers Association, a new Habitat sponsor.
“We had to scramble” to find tools to let the major work day go ahead, Pereira said.
Habitat for Humanity staff are asking the public to help protect the build sites by watching for suspicious activity and to call 911 if they see anything wrong.
Habitat for Humanity was founded in the U.S.A. in 1976 to provide safe, affordable housing for low income earners, who buy lower-cost volunteer-built homes with no-interest, no-down-payment mortgages in exchange for 500 volunteer hours.
The first Canadian Habitat home was built in Winkler, Man., in 1985, and Habitat for Humanity Manitoba was the first Canadian affiliate, established in Winnipeg in 1987. The charity has built homes for more than 275 Manitoban families.
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