DENVER (KDVR) — Historically high lumber prices are fueling a new problem.
Homebuilders in Colorado are reporting an explosion of jobsite thefts and on Wednesday launched a new campaign in southern Colorado to help catch the criminals responsible.
The Colorado Springs Housing Association held a press conference Wednesday. The group’s CEO, Renee Zentz, said lumber theft has always been a problem but never to the magnitude they are seeing right now.
The group teamed up with the Colorado Springs, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and Crime Stoppers to launch a new tip line dedicated to lumber thefts. Those who offer information leading to an arrest will be eligible for a $1,000 reward. Tips can be anonymous.
Zentz said the thefts are hurting the community. Lumber stolen from one house can increase the price by $10,000 and delay its construction. That in turn impacts Colorado Springs’ already limited inventory.
“The thing you need to realize too, when you talk about attainable housing, for every $1,000 that house goes up, we are talking 250 people who will not qualify for that house anymore,” Zentz said.
The cost of lumber has tripled over the last year. Speakers at the press conference said criminals are using the opportunity to steal the material to then sell it at half the price.
The group also said this is a problem impacting communities everywhere and stated the Denver Home Builders Association will be launching a similar effort in the coming weeks.