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Home News ‘It’s discouraging’: construction companies across Prince Albert reporting high number of thefts from construction sites

‘It’s discouraging’: construction companies across Prince Albert reporting high number of thefts from construction sites

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‘It’s discouraging’: construction companies across Prince Albert reporting high number of thefts from construction sites
Building materials sit next to a housing start in Prince Albert. -- Herald file photo.

Construction companies in Prince Albert say thieves have hit local construction sites hard, and the local business community is looking for ways to stop the damage.

The Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce met with the Prince Albert Construction Association recently to discuss the issue. They plan to host a meeting with business owners on May 4 to talk about crime prevention strategies. The Saskatchewan Construction Association, City of Prince Albert, Crime Stoppers and RCMP will also be involved.

“Our intention is to continue to advocate for the business community and meet with government, stakeholders, and others involved to make the necessary changes our business community needs to address this issue,” Prince Albert Chamber of Commerce CEO Patty Hughes wrote in a message sent to members Monday morning.

“Many times, businesses don’t make insurance claims and they incur several thousand dollars to replace and repair the loss in their business,” she added.

Prince Albert Construction Association Dan Yungwirth said it’s getting frustrating for contractors and construction crews, who already face numerous delays caused by COVID-19 restrictions and supply chains problems. Now, an increase in construction site theft has created another issue.

A recent PA Construction Association survey showed 83 per cent of respondents were the victims of crime in the past 12 months, with 36 per cent getting hit at least three times or more.

“It’s discouraging,” Yungwirth said. “It’s a pretty serious issue and we really hope that all the other groups involved really step up with us and come up with some solutions for us.”

The thefts range from $100 in one night to up to $10,000 for a series of thefts over the course of one construction project. Yungwirth said reporting the thefts and meeting the police also costs construction companies time, something they don’t have a lot of during a short construction season.

“We understand it’s not just an issue in Prince Albert,” he explained. “It’s on construction sites across the province, but it seems to be a little more acute here in PA. We wanted to tackle it here first and get some successes and spread it across Saskatchewan.”

Yungwirth added that it’s getting so bad, many construction companies have stopped filing claims on the items lost for fear of losing their insurance. Without that insurance, they won’t be able to operate.

“It’s pretty disheartening to have a member get told that they may have their insurance policy cancelled,” he said. “That would be devastating.”

Construction sites aren’t the only areas seeing an increase in theft. Monthly crime statistics from the Prince Albert Police Service show reported thefts both under and over $5,000 are up through the first three months of 2022 compared to last year.

Car thefts have also increased, with 109 reported in the first three months of 2022, compared to 70 during the same time in 2021. All statistics are taken from the March Crime Report included the agenda for the upcoming Board of Police Commissioners meeting.

Yungwirth said the Prince Albert Construction Association reached out to the Chamber of Commerce after hearing about the troubles other sectors faced. He’s hoping they can come together on May 4 and find a workable solution.

“We understand there are complex issues at play,” he said. “We understand that there’s a lot going on, but we need solutions. It’s time for everyone to come together and go, ‘okay, what do we do about this.’ It’s Not only for us to just say, ‘well, what are some things we can do as an industry to (create) a disincentive for people to break into our site.’ Obviously, don’t leave tools laying out where they are easily accessible, right. Those are things that our members need to know, but beyond that, what can the justice system do? What can police do? (We need) all of those players at the table to come up with solutions to slow this down.

“It doesn’t seem to be getting any better. It seems to be getting worse, and we just want some solutions for everybody.”

The May 4 meeting is free for business owners to attend. Registration is available online at the Chamber website.

The Chamber has also created their own confidential survey to collect data on how Prince Albert businesses have been effected by crime.