Monday, April 14, 2014

WHEN A NEIGHBOR STEALS


 By Kate Collins

I witnessed something Sunday and now I’m debating what to do about it.  I’d love your input.

There are two new homes under construction near my house, and in front of the homes are stacks of pre-stained lumber and trim. One of these stacks is sitting beside a huge Dumpster, which takes up most of what will be the front yard.

As I was getting ready to leave Sunday around noon, I saw a man from the neighborhood drive a utility cart to the construction site and load up at least a dozen long pieces of lumber and several pieces of trim. He saw me watching him. Then he drove the lumber up the street and around the bend to his house, where he unloaded it in his garage. I was stunned. 

I saw a neighbor friend standing in front of her house across the street from this man, so I pulled in and told her what was happening. She, too, was shocked and suggested I take a photo, so I did.

Dumpster diving is not uncommon in a new development, and I’ve heard that this man has done that several times in the past. But to take something obviously brand new outside the Dumpster? To me, that’s theft.

However, I don’t want to assume. Perhaps he had permission. It’s just difficult to believe that while a house is being constructed, the builder would let someone take new materials for his own use.

Now I’m debating what to do. If I just forget about the situation, that’s complacency. Would I drop it if I saw someone taking things from a neighbor’s garage? No. Do I report him to the builder and be the neighborhood snitch? Do I ask the builder if anyone has permission to take lumber, and if not, then rat the thief out?

What would you do?


p.s. I can see a great mystery plot from this. Body in the Dumpster. Nosy neighbor. Oh yeah, it has all the makings of a new book.

31 comments:

Skye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skye said...

I have not been in your situation before, so don't know what you should do. I can tell you that my husband, who works in construction, would say not only theft is costly but can delay the finish of the site. Someone will have to pay!!

Anonymous said...

Report him to the builder. Maybe you can do it anonymously?

Aurian said...

That is a difficult question. He saw you watching him, so he will know you told someone if he gets into trouble. Is he, or his family, the type to make you miserable when living there? If so, for your own sake, don't do anything about it. If you think they are "normal" people who just took it out of opportunity and not as something they usually do, then you could tell the builder or the police.

I am facing the same problem with my neighbours, who I suspect of growing drugs in their house. But if they find out that I told the police, my house and car will pay the price.

D. L. Marriott said...

How would you feel if he stole something from you, and one of your neighbors saw it and didn't say anything? I quote a book - "Sometimes we must choose between what is right, and what is easy." Report him. If he causes trouble, report him again.

Linda said...

I would casually mention to the person supervising the building site that you noticed one of the neighbors loading lumber into his truck & taking it to his garage & you were wondering if you could also take a few boards. That way you aren't exactly accusing the neighbor of stealing but you're letting the supervisor know who took the lumber. I imagine the missing lumber will not go unnoticed!

lavendersbluegreen said...

I am thinking you could ask the builder if he is aware that some neighbors might not understand the difference between outside the dumpster and inside and he would be wise to post a sign or maybe a hidden camera. You are giving him advice that is valuable no matter what without accusing anyone since you are not sure what the situation is although what you suspect is most likely true.
Good luck.

MiaCulpa910 said...

I would let the builder know what I saw. It just doesn't make sense, and, like Judge Judy says, if it doesn't make sense then it isn't true. I'd just have to go with theft over gift theory until I was proven wrong.

If he did have permission, then no harm done. If he didn't, then at least he is now on notice that SOMEONE saw and is willing to speak out. If he's been doing this, then he will continue to do it until someone stops him.

I probably would have called the cops right after I saw it. Let them figure out if it is a theft or not. I can't stand a thief or a liar. And one is usually the other--or so my Gramma always told me.

Denise Zendel said...

I would opt for telling too. And reporting him again if he retaliated. I do like the idea of telling the site supervisor, "you might not be aware, but .... " that way you're doing your due diligence and leaving it up to the company as to which way it wants to respond.

mary kennedy said...



Wow, this is a problem! I think I would tell the site supervisor. It's shocking that the neighbor thinks he can get away with it.

Nancy Jill Thames said...

I'm sure builders are aware of thieves. There's no way to protect materials unless they post a guard which may be more expensive than the loss. My dad had a saying that what goes around comes around. This thief will eventually pay a price. Don't take up another person's offence. Someone's safety, however is different.

Nerissa said...

Nissy here. You should call the police. What the man did was clearly wrong and, although he is your neighbour, the person from whom he stole is gonna be your neighbour, too. What's more, if this man stole once, he'll steal again. Maybe next time it will be from you!

If it turns out that he had permission to take the stuff, the police will sort it all out and no harm will have been done.

Purrs,
Nissy

PS. My peeps have been in a somewhat similar situation and Peep #1 called the police. She felt it was the right thing to do.

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

I don't know what to tell you. Right now I seem to be in trouble for asking my neighbor how he and his wife are doing. She is in a nursing home and dieing. Seems I ask all the time they say. Perhaps you should just ask the Super, if they are throwing the wood out. If he says no, then you could say you asked because you saw someone taking some. I don't think he will ask who it was. That way the culprit won't know it was you and the builder can move the wood. I bet this happens all the time at sites. Some people will steal anything. You would think he would have waited until dark to do it. You don't want to have him make it hard for you or your children to live there, even though it would be the right thing to do..

Anonymous said...

It takes a lot of courage to report this sort of thing, either to the construction co. or to the police, but I think it is certainly the right thing to do. Theft and crime in general are rampant in this country because people are afraid to report things they see.

Trish said...

The most important person "at fault" here is the contractor who was careless in leaving something next to a dumpster where anyone, at any time - whether you noticed it or not - could take it. If it were valuable, the contractor would have secured it. Is it your problem to watch out for the contractor? No. Don't expect the police to show much interest, whatever it is you do. Most jurisdictions don't go after things left next to the trash.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Tricky situation for you, but good for you for caring. I think we do have to pay attention to what is going on in our communities and try to keep things safe for everyone. Speaking to the site super is probably the way to go. The contractor does have a responsibility to safeguard the site and you don't know for sure what happened. If there was a theft, he/she can notify the police.

I have called the police more than once when something looked just plain wrong or dangerous!

Hugs.

MJ

Kate Collins said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Skye. I agree!

Kate Collins said...

Wow, Aurian. That could be a dangerous situation. I don't think this neighbor is dangerous. I'm going to do some investigating before I take action.

Kate Collins said...

Great advice! You sound like Grace in my Flower Shop mysteries.

Kate Collins said...

That's a great idea, Linda!

Kate Collins said...

Thanks. Good idea.

Kate Collins said...

Here's the most shocking part. This man WAS a contractor at one time!

Kate Collins said...

Very true. A bad karma kind of thing. No one's safety was jeopardized fortunately. I have a board meeting this week. I'll casually bring up the topic.

Kate Collins said...

I think we have to trust our gut instinct. If it feels wrong, it probably is.

Linda Mc said...

I agree with all the commenters who have suggested you tell the builder/ or site supervisor.

Jenel said...

Haha, a board meeting. Perfect place to discuss this!

Dotty Kelley said...

Call the police and let them determine if it's theft or he had permission. If he causes you any trouble, call the police again.

Anonymous said...

Agree - either contact police, the village and/or the construction company - don't need to say who you saw if you are worried. Needs to be reported. Theft is theft - and it will be the home buyeres who end up paying

Laurie Fancy said...

Theft is theft. Next time they could be stealing from you or a good neighbour of yours. Call the police, let them sort it out. No, I don't agree with reporting things anonymously. You need to stand up for something, or you'll fall for anything. I raised my three kids to know what's right, and they wouldn't think twice to 'do the right thing'. Yes, MiaCulpa910, thievery and lies do walk hand in hand; and those are two things I CANNOT abide by.

Linda Rima said...

Most police departments have anonymous crime hotlines. Do the right thing. You shoul always report a possible crime. If he was not stealing & saw you watching, why didn't he acknowledge you with a wave or some form of greeting or come talk to you? If your other neighbor saw it too. Both of you report it.

Book Dragon said...

Will you let us know how things turned out?

Strange that a contractor would leave stuff next to a dumpster, it was almost an invitation!

I'd tell someone. It sounds like he's done this before and I'd always be wondering if that missing something from my open garage would be found in his.