Contractors caught stealing from new construction lots

Posted at 6:17 PM, Jan 16, 2017

Dozens of homes are under construction in the Watergrass neighborhood in Wesley Chapel. And it’s not unusual for workers to be on the lots.

“We live here, we see these trucks go in and out and we assume they work for the builder or contracted by the builder,” said resident John Moses.

But Sunday a resident noticed a truck from an air conditioning and electrical contractor parked next to a home and thought something didn’t seem right.

That’s because this particular builder doesn’t use Schmitt, Inc.

Residents in another section of Wiregrass said they found the same two men coming out of their home Saturday, but scared them off before they could steal anything.

The Pasco Sheriff’s office showed up and arrested Ronald Wallace and William Kelling, not only for trespassing on the site, but for stealing from others.

Deputies said they found meth and drug paraphernalia in the truck too.

Thieves continue to plague the construction industry all around Tampa Bay, costing builders thousands of dollars.

“They target appliances mainly, they target air conditioning. They target really anything they can get their hands on. Lightning fixtures are really popular to steal,” said realtor Debbie Sokolowski.

In Watergrass, thieves took a pool pump from one home and an entire palate of tile from another.

Some builders even wait until just before closing to put certain high dollar items like appliances inside the homes.

Builders here said they do their best to keep thieves out, but residents themselves are the best defense.

“We are very well aware of who’s supposed to be here and who’s not, and that’s how they were caught so quickly yesterday,” said Sokolowski.

I talked to the owner of Schmitt, Inc., Danny Schmitt.

He said he’s still waiting for more information from the Sheriff’s Office about the arrest of his two employees.

But if it’s true, Schmitt said “he’s not happy about it.”

We did some digging and found both men have been arrested several times before.

In fact, records show this is the 4th year in a row Wallace was arrested.

Last year he was also charged with trespassing on a construction site.