Hall County investigators reported no new leads in a break-in at a Habitat for Humanity house over the holidays, sheriff’s office spokesman Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks said.
“A break-in of this type is equal parts disheartening and damaging,” said Ann Nixon, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Hall County.
A crew returned to work on the 3500 block of Triple Creek Bend after a holiday break and found the back door of the house had been forced open, Wilbanks said Wednesday.
The crew included students with the Habitat High program, a collaboration among the Hall County School System, Habitat for Humanity of Hall County and the Hall County Builders Association. The students from Chestatee, West Hall, Flowery Branch and Johnson high schools work from 7:30-10:30 a.m. on site, then return to their schools.
“Our volunteers, whether they be Habitat High students or members of the WomenBuild program that incorporates all of our other community volunteers, dedicate their hands and their hearts when they offer their time to build a house for someone who otherwise would never have their own home,” Nixon said. “These volunteers are committed to helping others. It is so destructive to have vandals callously damage or destroy those efforts.”
Donated power tools worth more than $1,000 were stolen from a storage pod, and copper wiring was stripped from the house, said Greg Beauchamp, head of the work crew.
Beauchamp estimated the cost of repairing the wiring at $2,000 and put the value of the stolen tools at $1,600. He said the line from the heating and cooling system to the house also was damaged in an attempt to steal copper. He estimated the cost of that repair at $200.
“We have received heartening response from fellow Habitat affiliates, local individuals and corporate partners,” Nixon said. “There is a silver lining to this disheartening destruction. There are angels among us and they are coming to the aid of Habitat Hall County. We are thankful for the support received and welcome, with open arms, additional assistance from any community member who would like to help.”
Those who would like to help can contact Habitat at email@example.com.
Wilbanks said that thieves target vacant homes for copper and that the rising price of scrap metal has exacerbated copper theft problems.
Legislative measures were taken to try and combat the practice, he said.
“The state has passed legislation in an effort to combat metal thefts that involves sellers being required to show ID at the time of sale and the recyclers being required to keep that information on file,” he said.
Local law enforcement coordinates with recyclers, in addition, he said.
“Among other things, recyclers are required to register with the sheriff’s office and maintain their purchase records for a minimum of two years,” he said. “Additionally, our investigators work closely with most of the recyclers in the region.”
Stolen copper is “usually sold at commercial metal recycling facilities,” he said.