Thefts on construction sites and private properties in Sequim are escalating to uncharacteristic numbers.
The North Peninsula
Building Association reported that as of Friday, Nov. 13, at least six utility trailers had been stolen from work sites in the previous 30 days.
One theft took place between Friday, Nov. 13, and Sunday, Nov. 15, east of Carrie Blake Park.
Frank Parry, co-owner of Parry Construction Inc., discovered his 1993 tan Northwest Custom closed-box utility trailer, along with all his tools, missing on Sunday morning.
He and his parents, Nick and Sally Parry, have been building a house on the site for three months.
"The hardest part is naturally going for a tool I might need and not having it anymore," Frank Parry said.
"Now we have to go to great lengths to continue working."
Neighbors saw a dark-colored Toyota Tundra scouting the area between 2-4 p.m. Saturday but did not report the sighting.
The Parrys said subcontractors visit the site often, but they don't know anyone who owns a vehicle matching the truck's description.
Around the time of Frank's discovery, Steve Allen, owner of Northland Builders, found someone had tampered with his trailer but no items had been stolen. He had been working on a site near the Parrys.
Great lengths to steal
The Parrys weren't careless in regard to theft.
They placed a hitch lock and bar with a padlock on their trailer to prevent easy tow away and entry.
After reports about thefts from the builders' association, the family received quotes on a security system and was only a few days from receiving one.
Now they've mulled over security options such as installing a removable hitch, wheel locks and/or removing the wheels on site and more.
"It's going to be expensive to do these security advancements," Nick Parry said.
"We'd go into debt to do them all at once, so we have to do it gradually."
The family hopes they can at least find their trailer and will make do using fellow contractor friends' tools.
Frank said the biggest disappointment was losing tools with sentimental attachment, such as those given to him by his father and fellow contractors through the years.
He feels the theft goes beyond losing his job temporarily; it is his family's lifeline.
"In the Old West, if you take a man's horse, he can't make a living," Frank said.
"For a contractor, if you take away his tools, it's the same thing."
Unlikely items stolen
Clallam County Sheriff Office and Sequim Police officers agree that construction sites are common targets for theft.
However, thieves have targeted unconventional items as well.
On Sunday, Nov. 8, Leilani Wood, owner of Sun Baked Greenhouses, found one of her kit greenhouses was stolen from near the intersection of Kirk Road and U.S. Highway 101.
The 6-foot-wide by 8-foot-long by 6-foot-tall barn-shaped greenhouse had been in the same spot for three years.
Wood said it was bolted down and staked to prevent theft since she had a similar greenhouse stolen six years ago.
She thinks the thieves knew exactly how to dismantle it because they scouted the area before stealing anything.
Wood contacted the sheriff and then hung posters, scouted Internet postings and drove the Sequim area for any information on her missing greenhouse.
Greenhouse sales are her main business after closing a nursery a few years ago.
She doesn't plan to put more completed greenhouse kits on the site.
"The only way we are going to stop this if we see something suspicious, we have to tell and become a more aware community," Wood said.
"Let's let the thieves know we are not going to accept it."
Prevention is key
Ron Cameron, chief criminal deputy for Clallam County Sheriff's Office, said the recent string of thefts all could be linked but it's hard to know.
He encourages people to think preventively, combining common preventive methods with innovative ones.
"If you take extra precautions, then it's harder for them and less likely they are going to take something," he said.
Clair Kirkman, member services director with the NPBA, recommends those with moveable equipment take it home at night, if possible.
"Do whatever you can to secure it and don't leave items on the job site," she said.
If you have information on stolen equipment, trailers or anything else, call Clallam County Sheriff's Department at 417-2459 or Sequim Police Department at 683-7227.
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.
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