November 21, 2018 7:02 pm
Updated: November 21, 2018 9:38 pm

Construction site thefts on rise in Okanagan

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A mini excavator isn’t the biggest piece of industrial equipment, but it is worth a lot of money and thieves know it.

On Sunday, a mini excavator was brazenly stolen from a work site in Kelowna during daylight hours.

“They drove it up to [a] gravel pile, got it up on top, backed up a pick-up or whatever they got it into, loaded it up and took off,” said TNC Excavating president Troy Chapman.

Another photo taken from video surveillance showing the mini excavator being stolen.

READ MORE: New Brunswick RCMP investigate theft of electrical equipment

Chapman figures whoever took the excavator was filling out an order.

“Somebody’s buying them,” said Chapman. “The thieves are stealing them to put in their backyard. They got it sold and it’s just a money transaction to them.”

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Winn Rentals in Kelowna is also feeling the impact of this crime wave. Contractors who rented equipment from Winn Rentals are reporting it stolen from construction sites.

“So far we’ve lost a Bobcat, [a] compressor, some thousand pound plate tampers, a bunch of generators, chainsaws,” said Brad Gretzinger of Winn Rentals. “Off the top of my head, about $145,000 worth of equipment.”

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Gretzinger says the equipment started disappearing about six weeks ago. RCMP say they’re seeing a pattern in heavy equipment thefts.

“The trend that we’re seeing is that heavy equipment is being targeted by thieves in the Okanagan,” said RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey. “They’re not just targeting heavy equipment, but also trailers, etc, that they would use to transport that equipment.”

“I think there’s a gang out there and they’re taking orders from customers — stealing what people are looking for,” said Gretzinger.

While police do their work, those in the industry say they have to work together to flush out the thieves.

“Keep it vocal,” said Chapman. “If something goes missing, get it out on the airwaves. Let’s try to squeeze these guys out.”

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