AUSTIN, Texas - Eighteen minutes is how long it took for thieves to break in, load up their truck with lumber and leave from a south Austin construction site.
“They were out of here just three minutes before the police showed up,” said Evelyn Poplin, the Motivado Group director of marketing. The Motivado Group is the company currently building on the site.
$10,000 of lumber was taken, lumber planned to be used for a new condominium.
“They got in and out; parked their vehicle correctly, they loaded up very quickly, dropped it in and got out of here,” said Poplin. The company had to pay out of pocket to replace everything stolen.
“These added construction costs will add to added rent costs and that will, unfortunately, turn over to the community which needs more affordable housing,” said Poplin.
According to Poplin, the video shows the thieves know exactly what they are doing. They even used a universal key to operate the forklift on site.
“They looked very bold while doing it. They are obviously very experienced on a construction site they are experienced using heavy lifting equipment,” said Poplin.
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Since the theft the company has increased security measures, which they had already beefed up when their site managed to catch fire overnight in the fall. The cause, in that case, is still unknown.
As for this recent theft at the site, Poplin said after talking to their supplier they learned other developers are facing similar issues at their sites and worry this is becoming a trend in the area.
“We've had many projects and since we've formed Motivado Group in 2015. We've done multiple projects all over Austin from condos, student housing, and small commercial projects and have never encountered something as bold and brazen as this,” said Poplin.
Even though the theft was disheartening, it hasn't slowed their work, they still plan to finish this project on schedule later this year.
Austin police are still investigating. The construction company is now offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest. They also plan to go to APD Thursday with other developers to try and shed more light on this issue to the police.\