Burglars target Tampa construction sites to make a quick buck

Project supervisor cashes on in the action
Posted at 7:02 PM, Aug 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-14 20:19:25-04

TAMPA — Burglars are targeting construction sites to make a quick buck. But one project supervisor stopped one in action.

A stranger walks around Tampa's oldest public housing. Over his shoulder is a duffel bag. Michael Bruno, superintendent for demolition company Howard Jimmie LLC, knew one thing wasn't in the bag.

"Not his lunch. Copper," he said.

The North Boulevard Homes is a no trespassing zone. Crews are demolishing more than 200 apartments as part of a multi-million dollar revitalization project.

As Bruno got closer to the man with the duffel bag he had just one thought.

"The nerve of this guy,' he said.

That's because Bruno has seen Brandon Ballard trespassing twice before on his work site. Bruno says he let him off with warnings and even gave him $5 when the man told him he was homeless. On the third time, it wouldn't end this way. Tampa Police say the alleged burglar had about $60 worth of copper in his bag.

"Copper, machinery anything worth money that you leave out will be gone," said Bruno of those that target construction sites.

You see salvaging that copper is a part of the demo company's bid, meaning when someone steals it that's money stolen from the company.

Ballard's attempt wasn't the first time this has happened at this particular work site. Last month TPD arrested Michael Woods after they say he stole nearly $2,000 worth of copper.

Over in Riverview, Hillsborough County deputies are still looking for a white SUV. It was caught on surveillance video. HCSO says two men stole $1,200 in wood from a construction site on Galway Sand Road.

Bruno has just one warning.

"You go to a job site and steal, you are going to jail! It's a felony," he said.