Rutherford County is one of the fastest-growing communities in the Midstate, and thieves are taking note.
Construction is at an all-time high in Murfreesboro, and no one knows that better than sub-contractor Jessie Jones of Jones Roofing. He has been on a roof most of his life.
"I started helping my dad when I was 12 years old, and I'm 50 now," Jones said.
But recently he's had to send his workers home because when they arrived they would discover roofing shingles had been stolen.
"A few Saturday mornings ago we got on the job at daylight. And all the material that was there the night before was gone," Jones said. "It cost us a day of work."
He said it's a growing problem.
"It seems to be widespread," Jones said. "You hear every week about material being stolen off jobs."
Contractors and builders all over the county have reported roofing materials, lumber and tools being stolen.
"I think they are selling them," Jones said. "They will have to be doing a lot of work to be using them on other jobs."
The word is quickly spreading, and police have increased patrols hoping to catch the crooks in action.
"The directive patrol looks for signs of people who are out possibly committing crime, going through a neighborhood real slow and looking at construction sites, so forth," said Murfreesboro Police Spokesman Sgt. Kyle Evans.
And it's not just residential crime. Many businesses have been targeted, too. Copper was reported stolen from several hotels and apartment complexes that are under construction.
"When we see a pattern start to develop where we have multiple incidents, we will alert our construction companies," Evans said. "We're not to that point yet."
The contractors and sub-contractors are trying to stay a step ahead of the thieves.
"I never leave tools on the job anymore. You can if you want to, but you'll have to buy more tomorrow," Jones said.
Most builders do have insurance that will cover their loss. But if the theft is over that policy amount they have to absorb the cost themselves.
They said they try to prevent passing the costs along to the customer because they could easily price themselves out of a sale.
Most of the thefts have been well into the thousands of dollars, and police are offering up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in the construction thefts.
If you have information that could help, call Crimestoppers at 893-STOP and you can remain anonymous.
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