Statewide theft problem could end up costing you

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) -  If you've ever needed repairs to your home, you know it can be expensive. So when a deal comes along to save a little here, and a little there, most of us may jump at the chance. But before you sign up for a "discount deal" you may want to consider who's paying for your advantage.

An uncommon theft at lumber and supply yards throughout East Texas is costing business millions.

"The actors made entrance through fenced areas," said Sgt. Shaun Pendleton, with Longview Police. "One cut the lock on the gate, another cut a hole through the fence, then they loaded up several pallets of shingles [and] hauled them off, we're assuming, on a trailer. We have reports that they've been hitting several lumber yards within two or three hour drives of Dallas."

At ABC Supply, thieves took four truck-loads of shingles.

"If someone thinks they can help themselves to somebody else's and sell it on the street at a reduced price, it makes profit obviously," said Matt Moody, the ABC branch manager.

Unknowing consumers are the targets of the stolen shingles.

"You know anybody selling shingles at a price, that's way too good to be true," said Moody. "More than likely that's a stolen item."

It was not a five minute job. Whoever came into the store stole the bundles which weigh 70 pounds apiece and got away with an estimated 36,000 pounds of shingles.

Businesses in Mount Pleasant, Texarkana, Tyler and Dallas have been hit, some more than once.

"This store here has been hit twice in six months," said Moody. "The store I came from in Fort Worth was hit a few times last year as well."

Police say the crooks are well organized and efficient. Investigators believe there could be six to eight on each job because of the huge amounts stolen.

"I feel confident it's the same people," said Pendleton.

Average cost is $60 to $80 a bundle. Do the math... And tell tale ads in newspapers have victims suspecting there produce went.

"Not that it's ours, but they're stolen shingles," said Pendleton.

And, it effects more than just inventory.

"It comes straight off the bottom line for the store [and] effects the manager, the employees, they're bonuses at the end of the year," said Moody.

If you're a homeowner and buy stolen shingles, then later use them on your home, your insurance could deny any claims because the shingles didn't have a warranty.

As for the thefts, police say they've arrested two people in Hopkins County, but it is not clear if the crimes are related.

If you know anything about the recent shingle thefts, call CrimeStoppers.

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