Wal-Mart builders to increase security after site thefts

Jan. 10--NIAGARA FALLS -- A theft of more than $22,000 in construction materials won't slow down contractors on the Wal- Mart Supercenter project on Military Road, but the builders said Friday that it will cause them to beef up security.

Contractors from J. R. Swanson Plumbing and Apollo Steel of Niagara Falls, and Industrial Light and Power of Buffalo had copper wire, battery chargers, heaters, drills and sawzalls stolen after a lock was cut off two trailers and a key was used to open another trailer.

Hardest hit was Apollo Steel, where suspects pulled out more than $18,000 worth of copper lead wiring and brass connectors, which were strung around the interior of the supercenter, which is going up on a tract between Niagara Falls Boulevard and the Fashion Outlets mall. It is expected to open in July.

Police found a 1995 Ford pickup truck, which had been stolen from the site, on Wing Court just before 5 a. m. Friday and believe the suspects may have gone into the trailer, stolen the keys to the pickup and used the vehicle to haul the materials from the site.

General contractor Ed Bergquist, of Burgio and Campofelice, told The Buffalo News that nearly every Wal-Mart project he's worked on has been hit by thieves and said that the things they steal are worthless to everyone except Wal-Mart.

Brian Sanders, from J. R. Plumbing, said the price of copper has gone down so much that the stolen items were not worth as much as they would have been in the past.

"This is not stopping us or slowing us down," Sanders said.

Copyright (c) 2009, The Buffalo News, N.Y. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.