Calgary police, builders move to curb new home vandalism

Calgary police and city homebuilders will work together try to put an end to vandalism and theft in newly-constructed homes in the city.

239 newly-built houses damaged prior to occupancy in 2013

Calgary police and home builders will work together to try to end the problem of vandalism of newly-constructed houses. 2:16

Calgary police and home builders will work together to try to end the problem of vandalism of newly-constructed houses.

In the past year, vandals have broken into 239 newly-built houses just prior to possession by the purchasers. 

Police say the damages resulting from new home vandalism are not only costly to builders, but have a resounding impact on new homeowners whose possession dates must be pushed back to allow for repairs, often leaving them homeless. (CBC)

Thieves have taken tools and appliances from the homes and in some cases vandals have gone to the extent of stuffing drains and turning all the taps on in a residence, leaving them to flood newly installed flooring and soaking drywall.

Builders say that they are typically on the hook for repairs and replacement costs and that they're putting a lot of effort into security. 

"This is why we're here — to try and prevent this from being an issue to the point where it will drive the costs of homes up," said Jayman Homes safety auditor Trevor Klein.

He says people have to be more aware of what's happening in their communities — because property crimes affect more than the builder's bottom line.

“These are people who are very prideful about the work they do. This hurts them. They build a home and then find out it’s been vandalized, or broken into. This hurts them, physically they take a blow. They don't want this to happen.”

The toll on homeowners 

The resulting damages are not only costly to builders, but have an impact on new homeowners. They can be left homeless as a result of the vandalism, because  possession dates must be pushed back to allow repairs to be made.

Just before Calvin Yip and his sister took possession of their property last September someone broke in and turned on the taps, flooding much of the house. 

"I was pretty excited for my first home, I don't want anybody to go through this or experience it, it's not a great feeling."

 Yip said it took quite the toll on himself and his sister Mayeleen Zapata  

"It's unfortunate, but we're real people behind it, who were affected greatly," said Zapata.

"Whoever came into our home to do that was either unaware of the impact that it would have on a family, or they simply just didn't care."  

Calgary police are asking the public to watch for the following signs of new home vandalism.

"There's no doubt about it, that we need more information to help us more routinely catch the criminals that are responsible," said Cst. Sarah Killington

It's certainly increasing, year on year, that's fair to say, but I think again we need to put that into perspective by recognizing that the city is growing at an enormous rate."

Suspicious people and vehicles, who may be about at odd times. Most contractors are prohibited from working between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

  • Large box-style trucks pulling up after normal working hours should be considered suspicious.
  • Brand new appliances sold online or through other means, without proof of purchase, or warranty, may be the product of a theft.
  • Workers should be able to provide proof of employment such as a business card, if requested.

Anyone with information related to new home vandalism is asked to call 403-266-1234 or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.

Damage to the basement of a newly-constructed home after vandals opened the taps and flooded the house. (City of Calgary)

With files from Dave Gilson/CBC