Construction industry celebrates crime prevention efforts
Jacob McKay's role at Hoffman Construction may be as a project superintendent, but he's also gained a reputation around the construction company as a bit of an amateur detective.
When thieves repeatedly targeted a Hoffman project at Reed College, McKay doggedly worked to track down the stolen tools and equipment and help law enforcement apprehend the criminals.
His efforts, along with those of law enforcement officers from police departments in Beaverton and Portland, were recognized last week during the 23rd annual Construction Industry Crime Prevention Program Awards, held March 19 at the Multnomah Athletic Club.
The Construction Industry Crime Prevention Program, a nonprofit organization, formed in 1996 as a way to bring construction companies and law enforcement officers together to work to reduce crime and vandalism on jobs sites throughout Oregon, especially in the Portland metro area.
The group's annual awards recognize outstanding efforts by law enforcement agencies and officers, public agencies, and private companies and individuals in the Oregon building industry to work with CICPP to prevent job site theft and vandalism, recovery stolen construction tools and equipment, and apprehend thieves and vandals.
McKay was selected to receive the crime prevention program's 2019 Padlock Award, for helping recover $15,000 worth of stolen tools and equipment and working with law enforcement to apprehend the thieves.
When Hoffman' Construction's project site at Reed College experienced several instances of vandalism, McKay worked with Karen Blythe, executive director of the crime prevention program, and the Portland Police Bureau to boost security on the worksite, including placing security cameras at all entry points .
He also was able to locate tools and equipment that had been stolen from several subcontractors on the Reed project site. The tools were being sold on an online site called Offer Up.
More than once, under the guise of being interested in buying the tools and equipment, McKay arranged to meet with a seller in a parking lot in a public area. When he and members of his construction team arrived and saw the alleged thief waiting to sell the tools, McKay called the Portland Police Bureau. Officers eventually were able to apprehend at least two individuals who had tried to sell tools and equipment taken from the Reed site. While some investigations are pending, one individual recently was convicted of five felonies and several misdemeanors in connection with the tool theft, according to McKay.
The video from the job site security cameras was crucial to building the case to earn those convictions, McKay said.
Partners in prevention
The jobsite criminal activity that Blythe's organization works with contractors and law enforcement and contractors to stem isn't limited to the theft of construction equipment and tools.
At least one contractor had to call police after someone was spotted on a construction site on a Sunday morning. The unauthorized visitor climbed up a crane and then videotaped the view from the top. The video was posted on YouTube, Blythe said.
The same person also videotaped himself carrying a large monitor into an apartment building that was under construction. The trespasser and some friends proceeded to plug into electricity in the building to play video games.
In both cases, Blythe's organization sent out alerts to members. The program also works with people living in areas where projects are under way to help them learn how to spot — and report — any suspicious activity.
That community buy-in was critical when it came to protecting a project site at Grant High School from theft, vandalism and trespassers. Blythe's program worked with Andersen Construction and Colas Construction as the project general contractors. Portland Parks and Recreation staff, the Portland Office of Community and Civic Life, Portland Public Schools, the Portland Police Bureau and Safeguard Security to set up neighborhood watches and educate the community about keeping the project site secure.
For their work, the partners were honored during the awards luncheon with the 2019 CICPP Partnership Award.
Working with law enforcement
Strong relationships with law enforcement agencies and their officers and detectives have been critical to the success of Blythe's program in helping keep area construction sites safe. This year, officers and detectives from Beaverton and Portland were recognized in two categories during the awards luncheon.
DaNeshia Barkley, an officer with the Beaverton Police Department, and Chuck Elam, an officer with the Portland Police Bureau, received 2019 Law Enforcement Partner awards. The award is given to officers, police departments or agencies that have played a key role in helping build relationships between members of Blythe's program and law enforcement.
Barkley received her award for helping Perlo Construction improve safety on a jobsite in Beaverton. Elam was recognized for helping apprehend someone spray painting graffiti on a trailer at an LCG Pence jobsite in Portland.
Three detectives from the Beaverton Police Department were presented with the 2019 Law Enforcement Award.
Sean Connor, Pat McNair and Mat Groshong were selected for this year's award based on their work to help recover more than $15,000 in materials stolen from various homebuilder jobsites in the Beaverton area.
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