SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — Property crime has long been a huge problem in Spokane.
Police say burglaries are once again on the rise.
Cameron Reilly Concrete can attest to the trend. The business is one of the latest to find missing equipment and cut wires.
A man cut their fence, stole one of their most essential tools and disappeared at 8 a.m. Burglaries of this magnitude haven't happened in years, they said.
"I can't believe they did this, it takes gall," Safety Director Ken Snyder said. "It takes a special kind of person, a selfish person, to steal from somebody."
The business is out thousands of dollars after the theft.
"It takes a really selfish person to steal," he reiterated. "We use compactors every day."
A concrete compactor compresses gravel down before the workers pour cement, allowing the ground to stabilize and keep from cracking. Each machine is worth around $2,000.
"The loss of the money and the equipment is one thing," he said. "To have people in our community that are willing to do this and steal things that they didn't earn - I don't agree with that choice, that lifestyle."
As of Oct. 6, commercial burglaries have increased over 60% from 2019 to 2020. In 2019, there were a total of 141 reported. In just eight months, there has been 229, according to Spokane County Sheriff's Corporal Mark Gregory.
"Those numbers are up because of the simple fact that stores are paying more attention and doing more loss prevention," Gregory said. "But I do not want to speculate too much."
He had two other main reasons why burglaries could be up. The pandemic and thieves not having severe enough consequences.
"With people having a hard time right now with lockdowns and everything that's going on, I think people are resorting to going out and taking what they need at times," he added.
By law, burglarizing is not a violent crime.
"People that are committing [theft] are right back out and I personally think it's unreasonable to believe that they're just going to not commit those crimes again," he said.
Documenting trespassers allows police to elevate charges.
"When they do come back into the store and steal again, it's charged as a commercial burglary, instead of a theft," he explained.
The best safeguards to burglaries is putting up lights, cameras and an alarm system.
The same day, the sheriff's office sent out another construction burglary and vandalism report of over one $100,000. Although the trucks look similar, Gregory said they do not appear to be the same person.
"I would believe it's somebody that works in concrete," Snyder said. "It's obvious that they're familiar with the process and know where to go."
When asked if it could have been an employee or ex-employee, Snyder said it was possible. The man put his hat down and looked at the ground the whole time.
"We mainly fire people over behavior related offenses, so it is possible." he added.
They are hoping the community is able to recognize the unique blue vehicle. Police are encouraging anyone with information regarding this crime or other burglaries to Crime Check at 509-456-2233.