CLEARWATER, FLA. — More than a dozen plants were stolen from a Habitat for Humanity home in Pinellas County recently.
Mike Sutton, CEO and President at Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties, said the plants have disappeared from the home twice in the past week. Habitat for Humanity has spent the past 3 months building the home in the North Greenwood community in Clearwater. He said about 18 plants were stolen from the house.
"So for the second time in the last week, we've had an issue here with folks stealing the plants," said Mike Sutton.
Sutton said every year, Habitat for Humanity builds about 70 homes in the community. The homes are costing about $30,000 more compared to pre-pandemic prices because of inflation. He said every year, the non-profit loses about $150,000 from people stealing items from home sites.
"About $150,000 in losses. People steal products or walk off with supplies and that kind of thing and it adds up. Each one of these homes cost about $150,000 to build so if you really think about it, it's one less family we'll be able to get into a home this year because of things like this," said Sutton.
Sutton said they do monitor home sites to try and prevent thefts.
"We do as much as we can to limit that with cameras and drive-bys and staff on-site all the time, but from time to time, people steal materials and supplies. It's unfortunate and it sets the organization back," added Sutton.
Sutton said Habitat for Humanity offers people a house with a zero-interest mortgage. He hopes thieves leave the houses alone and learn to respect other people's property.
"A lot of folks responding and offering plants and offering to come out and replant them and all kinds of stuff. This is something that we've seen tick up as of late. We're starting to see more and more theft on some of our sites," said Sutton.