THE CRIME: Burglary
THE VICTIM: Challen Knight
LOCATION: 600 block of Cornell
TIME: Between midnight and 8 a.m.

Thinking about doing some heavy-duty renovations?

You might want to consider investing in a gigantic steel box. Aside from taking your stuff home with you every time you call it a night, a giant steel box may be the only way to protect your equipment from a rash of vacant building robberies.

“It’s like a big steel dumpster,” Dallas Police Lt. Michael Woodberry says. “You put your stuff in there at night and lock it up, and it’s safe. They’re starting to be used a lot. A lot of these tools renovators use are so heavy, it’s hard to take them home every night. And if you leave your tools in the empty building, a lot of times you’ll come back the next day, and they’ll be gone.”

One of many people to recently learn this lesson is renovator Challen Knight. Working on a residence in Preston Hollow, Knight figured with the enormous size of most of his tools, nobody would be able to steal them — but he was wrong.

“There’s no telling how many guys they had with them, or how big a truck,” says Knight of whoever kicked in the back door of the vacant residence and robbed him blind. “Our pull saw alone would’ve taken a few guys to carry and would’ve taken up most of an average-sized truck. They must’ve known what they were doing.”

In all, Knight lost more than $10,000 worth of equipment, including air compressors, paint sprayers, tile and pull saws. While most vacant home robberies are random, Woodberry says, with burglars breaking in to steal copper and pipes from the wall, that description doesn’t appear to fit Knight’s case. Judging by the size of the equipment the burglars got away with, it must have been an inside job or — more likely in Knight’s mind — a job plotted over previous days by random thieves.

“The police say there were more buildings in the area that’d been robbed the same way. They found out it was some lawn guys who’d been working nearby who’d just scoped the place out and hit it at night. That’s probably what happened here.”

Woodberry agrees, saying that inside jobs are rare in this sort of robbery.

“These thefts happen an awful lot, but rarely is it someone close to the project who does it,” Woodberry says. “Usually, robbers just see these vacant places and assume there’s something inside to take, whether it be tools or copper or even kitchen appliances. That’s why it’s smart to take everything out when you stop working for the day. Or lock it all up somehow, like in a steel box.”

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