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Thieves hit Eagle job sites

EAGLE, Colorado ” A rash of recent construction thefts at Eagle Ranch has local contractors peeved and the Eagle Police Department poised for action.

One contractor, Tim Lape, presented his concerns to the Eagle Town Board last week. Lape figures he lost $50,000 to $60,000 worth of tools when the burglars hit the Highlands neighborhood in June.

“You have to be a pretty professional outfit to do that,” Lape said.

Eagle Police Chief Rodger McLaughlin agreed.

McLaughlin told the board the June thefts weren’t the first to hit Eagle construction sites. He noted this type of burglary is actually a nationwide problem and Eagle sites are getting hit every three to six months. Additionally, investigation into stolen items has supported the theory that a professional group of thieves are at work.

Last week Eagle police learned that a saw stolen from Eagle had surfaced in Dallas.

“That would indicate this is not a crime of opportunity,” said McLaughlin.

The police department sent a letter to 117 contractor license holders in town launching a theft prevention effort. The letter proposes an information sharing program between cops and contractors.

“When information becomes available the police department tenaciously investigates all leads. However in most of our previous cases, we were left with very little information to follow up on,” noted McLaughlin.

The goal is to glean more information from the contractor community. While police suspect the thieves come from outside the county, there may be ties to Eagle County workers. Anyone possible leads should contact the Eagle Police at 328-6351. Additionally, information can be referred to Eagle County Crime Stoppers at 328-7007 or 1-800-962-TIPS. A reward is available for information that leads to an arrest.

The Highlands neighborhood in Eagle Ranch is particularly vulnerable to construction site thefts, McLaughlin said, because it is relatively isolated and there are no permanent residents living there yet. He noted that police officers routinely patrol the area during the late night or early morning hours. However, thieves organized enough to steal several thousands of dollars worth of tools in a single night are also savvy enough to post sentries.

Additionally, the thieves don’t announce themselves by rolling into town with a caravan of trucks. Tracks at the site of the most recent burglaries involved two trucks and one trailer.

McLaughlin also announced plans to host an information sharing/brainstorming meeting with local contractors. He urged all Eagle residents to become involved in the effort to thwart construction thefts. A group of local contractors present at last week’s meeting pledged their support.

“We are in the business to do a good job and work hard. You can’t do that when you don’t have your tools,” said Tracy Gilly.


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