ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – One of the fastest growing communities in St. Johns County has been faced with thieves. Construction crews in Nocatee have reported burglars to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office and the crooks are breaking into homes that are under construction and stealing what they can.
The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office told News4Jax Tuesday that the constant construction in Nocatee is making it a target for thieves.
"You don't have the neighborhood watch, you don't have the people looking out for other people and you also have some of these homes being left unlocked, being left in different stages of completion, and so you have valuables there," said St. Johns County's Kevin Kelshaw.
News4Jax found four different home construction sites in the Nocatee area that have been burglarized. On Park Lake Drive, a built-in oven, cooktop, kitchen cabinets and two microwaves were stolen from a home under construction.
On Magnolia Creek Walk, burglars stole a washer and dryer and thieves struck twice on Hiller Lane, stealing $4,000 worth of lath metal, a metal wiring used in home construction.
"Metal lath is not traceable, there's not a serial number or anything like that on it," said contractor Daniel Wilkinson. "There's no way to identify it. It's like a package of shingles that you would buy for a roof. There's no identification other than each individual piece and it's very easy to sell."
Wilkinson said thieves often turn around and sell the lath metal to other contractors for half the price and with little to no evidence to go off of.
"We urge people to keep that in mind when you are locking up a house, securing a house, keep it locked, keep it secured and don't give a bad guy an opportunity to steal from you," said Kelshaw.
"It's very tough to make it, so anything you battle against, especially a thief, is hard to deal with and makes you angry," said Wilkinson.