Lumber is shown in the back of a van in this recent image provided by the Saskatoon Police Service. The skyrocketing prices for lumber is fuelling a trend that has authorities across the country warning builders to keep their guard up. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Saskatoon Police Service-Const. Derek Chesney *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Lumber is shown in the back of a van in this recent image provided by the Saskatoon Police Service. The skyrocketing prices for lumber is fuelling a trend that has authorities across the country warning builders to keep their guard up. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Saskatoon Police Service-Const. Derek Chesney *MANDATORY CREDIT*

‘It is a gold mine:’ Builders warned of rising lumber thefts across Canada

Many North American mills curtailed production temporarily earlier in 2020 because of COVID lockdowns

The skyrocketing cost of lumber is fuelling a trend that has authorities across the country warning builders to keep their guard up.

Canadian authorities have been warning about the rise in lumber thefts, which has some people quipping on social media that wood has become as desirable as gold.

Det. Sgt. Tosha Ternes of the Saskatoon police said the city has seen a huge jump in thefts at construction sites since 2018.

“We’ve driven out to these areas that are getting hit and it is a gold mine with valuable stuff laying everywhere,” Ternes said in an interview.

The thefts are mainly happening on weekends between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. when fewer people are around, she said.

Ternes also noted that some construction sites have been hit three or four times. One site lost $2,700 worth of lumber in one night. Thieves came back to steal appliances, then went after flooring that was still in its packaging.

“People are going back to the same place knowing that there is stuff there,” she said.

“Our Aspen Ridge and Brighton areas in the east side of Saskatoon are new areas right now and they are getting hit a lot. Thousands of dollars in lumber, tools and everything.”

Earlier this month in another part of Saskatoon, $1,000 worth of lumber was stolen from a construction site.

Ternes said a resident called police to report a suspicious vehicle. When officers responded, they noticed the lumber in the back of an older model van.

“A lot of the times if you see that much lumber with the prices and the vehicle isn’t that expensive, it’s kind of odd on how they could afford all that lumber when their vehicle isn’t really in good working order,” she said.

The lumber was later returned to its rightful owner. A man, who Ternes said was known to police, was apprehended and charged with theft under $5,000.

In Guelph, Ont., last month, the owner of a Home Hardware wasn’t so lucky.

Police spokesman Scott Tracey said a man in a stolen pickup truck rammed through the gates of the store at about 4 a.m. and took $10,000 worth of lumber.

Surveillance footage of the theft on April 12 went viral.

“He spent over an hour, actually, loading up lumber onto the back of the truck,” Tracey said.

The man is still at large, he said, and the stolen lumber and truck have not been recovered.

There have been no other cases, Tracey said, but he added that thefts of construction material are always a problem.

Another theft was recently reported by in Mounties in the Maritimes, with about $1,500 worth of lumber missing.

RCMP in Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L., said the lumber was being used to put up a sign on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Experts have said soaring lumber and wood panel prices have added thousands of dollars to the cost of building a home in Canada. And, with the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are staying put and renovating, which has made for high demand in materials that is outstripping supply.

Shortages were already being felt last summer after several mills in British Columbia were closed due to a shortage of wood fibre after a mountain pine beetle infestation and wildfires.

Many North American mills curtailed production temporarily earlier in 2020 because of COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

High prices have also affected forests in British Columbia. Municipal officials in North Cowichan say they suspect tree poaching is on the rise.

Back in Saskatchewan, RCMP officers even jested this week that they cracked an “extremely Canadian case.”

Mounties from the Porcupine Plain detachment were called to investigate a theft of posts which had been piled on a rural property for fencing.

They were found in a nearby waterway and it appeared a beaver had helped itself to the lumber to build a dam.

“Who could really blame these little bucktooth bandits, considering the price of wood these days?” said Const. Conrad Rickards in a news release.

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Construction

Just Posted

Pam Bottomley (executive director), right and Sandy Hurley (president) of the Parksville Downtown Business Association visit the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Downtown Parksville gears up for post-pandemic bounce back

Podcast: Hurley, Bottomley chat about what’s ahead for the PDBA

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

(File photo)
Crime report: Crooks busy pilfering bikes throughout Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Thefts among 295 complaints Oceanside RCMP deal with in one-week period

The Arrowsmith Search and Rescue logo on the back of a service vehicle. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville and Qualicum Beach provide letters of support for Arrowsmith Search and Rescue

ASAR asks for increase in funding, one-time capital grant and for RDN to buy out current facility

The proposed running track upgrade at Ballenas Secondary is now on course. (PQB News file photo)
RDN: Parksville track upgrade project gains some traction

Staff recommends board approve $204,000 funding

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-month-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre estimates that less than five per cent of mass-marketing fraud is ever reported.
Tips to avoid scams targeting Vancouver Island seniors

In most cases, fraudsters impersonate an individual, business or agency seniors recognize and trust

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

Most Read