Increasing theft of building materials from construction sites, especially residential projects, is driving up the cost of homes to consumers as much as 10%, the New York Times reports. Experts say as much as $5 billion a year is being lost to thieves looking to profit from skyrocketing prices for building materials and metal prices.
As the economy has weakened, thieves have become bolder, breaking into construction sites to make off with copper pipes and wiring, siding, lumber, even bags of cement. One builder says thieves took wiring out of walls that had already been covered with sheetrock. “They’ll take anything that’s not nailed down,” one developer marvels, “and even stuff that is nailed down.”