Sioux Falls police investigate copper theft - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Sioux Falls police investigate copper theft as work site thefts become more common

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"This is about the third time here and actually it's about the second time in about a week and a half," said Dean Stalheim, the Branch Manager of General Equipment & Supplies. 

The Sioux Falls Police Department is investigating the theft of $6,000 worth of copper wiring from General Equipment & Supplies. 

The wire was cut off of several large pieces of mining machinery outside the business; this kind of theft is starting to affect nearly everyone in the Sioux Falls construction industry.  

Many active construction projects are left along in the dark over night, opening up the possibility for theft.  With over $200 million in new building permits this year, contractors in Sioux Falls are worried this kind of theft will become even more common. 

"The problem is that it's also going to bring people here that aren't all good contractors; it's going to bring people here that are going to possibly take advantage of jobs sites and take materials off the job sites," said Custom Home Builder Alan Amdahl. 

Amdahl has been building homes in Sioux Falls for 30 years, but recently, he's heard of more thefts in the area. 

"They seem to know what they're looking for, they know that the generators are top dollar, the air guns are probably two to three hundred dollars, the copper wiring is two to four dollars a pound," said Amdahl. 

"Copper is in demand, the price is up and they turn around and sell it to scrap yards," said Dean Stalheim with General Equipment and Sales. 

"It all starts to add up real quick, if you can load up a pick up and get out of town with it, they can make a lot of money real quick," said Amdahl. 

What leaves constructions sites the most vulnerable is the sheer size of their equipment.  With large machinery, it's nearly impossible to find a safe place to store it over night. 

"This equipment is too big to house inside or keep it locked up in a garage or something…we've got a couple million dollars worth just right now and you just can't put it inside," said Stalheim. 

It's why many construction sites are getting creative with security measures. 

"You'll go by some job sites and they've got their generators lifted up in the air with a crane or a fork lift, no body's every going to get to that stuff," said Amdahl. 

They're using lock boxes and ordering small amounts of supplies at a time instead of the full project. 

"It might add a little bit to the delivery costs, but it saves a lot in the long run for not having to worry about it being damaged by the weather, the elements or being stolen," said Amdahl. 

"I think the police now know this is happening, it's happened at other construction sites and they're going to keep an eye out," said Stalheim. 

Amdahl says several contractors in Sioux Falls have started using security cameras to protect their construction sites. While contractors do have insurance for thefts, they are still out a substantial deductible every time a theft occurs.

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