by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - An alert deputy helped recover $10,000 worth of stolen items from a Clarksville construction site. Two suspects have been arrested as authorities try to address a growing problem.
"It's very frustrating to get a call at 3:30 (a.m.) and we have four houses right here get just blasted," Chris Blackwell of C. Blackwell Construction explained as he walked up to one of his newly constructed homes in the Liberty Park subdivision targeted by thieves.
From breakers stolen from panel boxes to lumber stolen from the yard, thieves are believed to have made two trips to the Liberty Park subdivision stripping the homes still under construction.
"They pulled the meter out so there would be no power inside the house," Blackwell said about one of the homes. "They already drained the hot water heater. All the water ran out so this was their next trip."
"It's not uncommon," Karen Blick, Executive Officer of the Clarksville Homebuilders Association said about the growing rash of burglaries as construction sites. "About 90 percent of our membership have been touched by theft this year."
Homebuilders are not only frustrated, they're fed up.
"They got one of our drills," plumber Wayne Potter said. "Hopefully it will come up with the rest of the stuff."
It's estimated that thieves took between $15,000-$20,000 worth of equipment and supplies. It all happened while the neighbors were asleep.
Friday morning, a Montgomery County Deputy pulled over a vehicle leaving the subdivision after suspecting that the driver was under the influence. That's when the deputy noticed the items and Blackwell confirmed were stolen from his construction site.
Carl Martin, 37, and Stephen Williford, 38, have been arrested and charged with burglary. They're being held in lieu of $30,000 bond.
"This isn't their first rodeo," Blackwell said. "They knew what they (were) doing."
Homebuilders are working with law enforcement and using technology, like surveillance and GPS, to keep track of their appliances and supplies. They're also asking the community to be on guard and report any suspicious activity near construction sites.