AUGUSTA — Joe Nestor should have spent Tuesday cutting framing and pounding nails in his race to beat the approaching winter.
Instead, the owner of Atlantic Building Contractors was filling out police reports and insurance forms. After arriving at his job site on West River Road, he found someone had broken into his storage trailer and stolen thousands of dollars worth of tools and equipment.
Nestor is at least the second Kennebec County builder hit by burglars in recent weeks.
“There seems to be an issue around here with people breaking into contractors’ tool trailers,” Nestor said. “They’re stealing stuff so we can’t even make a living.”
Nestor estimated about $10,000 worth of tools, including air guns, a table saw, compressor as well as finish and cordless tools, were taken from trailer sometime between 6:15 p.m. Monday and 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. The trailer was parked outside a vacant home Nestor is renovating a few doors down from Le Club Calumet on West River Road.
No police report was immediately available, but Augusta Police confirmed they are investigating.
Nestor said the burglars, unable to break the padlock on the enclosed trailer, cut and pried the locking hasp.
“It looks like they used a bolt cutter,” Nestor said. “They kept nibbling at the hasp and then used a pinch bar to pry it apart.”
The method is similar to one used two weeks ago involving a break-in at a trailer being used by builder Yvon Doyon at a job site on Tiffany Road in Sidney. Doyon estimated the thieves got away with about $5,000 worth of tools and equipment.
“You buy a good padlock and they learn to cut the hasp behind it,” Doyon said. “The (police) officer said that’s the way they’ve been doing them.”
Both Nestor and Doyon have insurance, but coverage is based on the age of tools rather than actual replacement costs. Doyon estimated he spent an extra $1,500 of his own money to replace the tools that were taken from him. “They’re older tools, but they did the job,” he said.
Doyon has been in business for 30 years and his tools had never been stolen before the incident a couple weeks ago.
“It hurts,” he said. “It takes bread right off the table.”
Nestor said he about $12,000 in tools stolen were from a trailer at a job site in Wayne in 2003.
“They took everything except the generator and table saw,” he said. “The only reason they left that, the sheriff’s deputy said, was they ran out of room.”
Nestor has been careful since then to secure his tools and about keeping an updated inventory, but he said he sometimes goes weeks or longer without using a particular tool. So he might not even know all that was taken until needs a tool and discovers it missing, and at that point it will be too late to file an insurance claim.
Nestor immediately noticed what is perhaps his most maddening loss: his personal work apron.
“It probably has a value of $100 tops, but those tools and hammers I have used for years,” he said.
Nestor said he and his crew of three will lose at least two days of work in between police and insurance paperwork and buying new tools. The setback comes as winter snow is closing in and threatening to slow the work even more.
Nestor felt some security with his trailer in a high visibility area, but in spite of that he believes the burglars took their time breaking into the trailer and collecting the equipment, some of which had to be unscrewed from the walls. He’s hoping someone saw something that will help police find those who took his tools.
“There’s a lot of activity here,” he said.
Craig Crosby — 621-5642