After $6,000 in tools were stolen from Habitat site, community steps up to help

Thursday , September 28, 2017 - 10:19 AM1 comment

ANN ELISE TAYLOR, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — After thousands of dollars in tools were stolen from a Habitat for Humanity build site this week, the organization is scrambling to get back on track — but thankfully, the community has stepped up to help. 

Sometime between the evening of Sept. 23 and the morning of Sept. 27, a trailer full of tools was broken into at Habitat for Humanity of Weber and Davis Counties’ build site on 30th Street in Ogden. About $6,000 in tools were stolen, Executive Director Jeannie Gamble said. 

Gamble said she knew something was wrong when her site manager called her earlier than usual Wednesday morning.

“He said, ‘We’ve been wiped out. Someone broke into the storage unit and stole all the tools,’” Gamble said. “He was just as sick as could be. He was so upset.” 

He wasn’t alone — it was an emotional blow to the whole organization, Gamble said. Since they didn’t have tools to use, volunteers and a professional framing crew coming to help Wednesday had to be turned away, putting Habitat behind schedule.

The delay may not seem like much, but with winter weather on the way, the setback has Gamble worried about finishing the site’s two homes near 149 30th St. on time. 

“I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but with volunteers framing for eight hours a day, with 10 to 15 volunteers at the site every day, that’s hundreds of hours we lost,” Gamble said.  

However, some good has come with the bad — Habitat has been overwhelmed by the community’s immediate response and generous efforts to get things back on track, Gamble said.

Businesses have donated money. People have handed over expensive tools and surveillance cameras. Volunteers have flooded the organization with offers to help. 

The professional framing crew that was turned away Wednesday is coming to the site Saturday instead, Gamble said. They were originally volunteering paid work hours, but this time around they’re sacrificing their day off for free. 

On top of that, a GoFundMe started on the organization’s behalf Wednesday has already raised more than $4,000. 

“It’s been amazing and wonderful how the community is coming together to support us,” Gamble said.

The donated money will be particularly helpful. Many of the items stolen were specialized pieces of framing equipment that cost hundreds of dollars a pop — an itemized report Gamble is turning in to Ogden police Thursday lists dozens of items, including an air compressor, framing nailers, a generator and more. 

Since Habitat doesn’t have thousands of spare dollars in its bank account, money to replace the specialized equipment would have had to come out of the two homes’ budgets. 

So, without the community’s support, the houses — which marketing director Maria Rague says are for a retired veteran, as well as a single mom with kids — wouldn’t have been quite as complete. 

“We’re very thankful and appreciative of the community and the businesses who’ve stepped up in the last 24 hours,” Gamble said. “It’s reaffirmed what we’re doing.”

Ogden Police Department Lt. Tim Scott said police didn’t have any leads or suspects as of noon Thursday. However, they’re investigating and working with area pawn shops to see if any of the stolen items turn up. 

He encouraged anyone with information to share about the stolen tools to contact Detective Jake Wilson at 801-629-8257 or detectives@ogdencity.com

Habitat for Humanity of Weber and Davis Counties can be reached at 801-475-9821. Donations can be made at https://habitatwd.org/donate/ or gofundme.com/habitat-tools.

Ann Elise Taylor can be reached by phone at 801-625-4213, by email at aetaylor@standard.net or on Twitter at @annelise_taylor.

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