Rise in construction site thefts becoming major problem for builders

Kiwi builders are turning up to their sites to find timber, wiring and fittings have been stolen.

There's been a rise in construction site thefts and the rising cost of supplies is being blamed.

Jay Ryan on the job today - using one of the only tools not stolen by thieves.

"They took everything possible, scaffolding. Everything was locked and chained up," he says.

The site's been broken into four times in the past two months - most recently this past weekend.

Thieves took everything from screws and nails, to power tools and plastic building wrap. Even the most unexpected items.

"As a final thanks very much for coming they've taken our toilet paper and our notepads," Ryan says.

With many building supplies already in short demand due to shipping delays, it's been a big problem.

"They don't have 20 boxes of stainless steel nails sitting on the shelf, they've only got five or six," Ryan says.

Other builders are also being targeted. Cellphone footage shows massive damage at an almost-completed home in Porirua where thieves smashed holes in the wall to steal copper wiring and steel fittings.

"I've never heard of them going to such extremes to a finished room and breaking holes," Porirua builder Lance Ross-Christoffersen says.

And it's becoming more common.

"We are hearing an up-tick of burglaries on-site - both tools and materials, and we suspect the materials side is because of the cost of materials going up," Master Builders CEO David Kelly says.

Tradie vehicles in Wellington are also being broken into - with police noticing a recent surge.

"In the past couple weeks we've had several reports, about 14, total amount of $100,000 of tools, that's significant," Wellington Senior Sergeant Jason McCarthy says.

To try and help, Bunnings is engraving tradies tools - so if they are stolen, they're marked.

"They chose either driver license number or work vehicle license plate number, and they engrave that into the tools they bring along to engrave," says Bunnings operations manager Michelle James.

Builders are being urged to put a fence around their constructions site where possible, and to keep it locked to try and deter thieves. 

Builders hoping this recent spate of thefts ends soon.