Winter Haven Police looking for plywood poachers, amid lumber shortage

Polk County

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – While lumber prices begin to rebound from record-high prices, contractors in Winter Haven are still facing another economic blow.

Winter Haven police are trying to locate the driver of a van seen on camera going in and out of a subdivision, stealing 100 sheets of plywood from two homes under construction.

Source – Winter Haven Police Department

It occurred in the early morning hours of June 9 at the Seasons at Lake Smart Pointe.

“Went into this subdivision and went to two different home construction sites and proceeded to take 100 sheets of plywood and at the rate they’re going this day and age, that can be a big hit,” said Winter Haven Police public information officer Jamie Brown.

It cost the Orlando-based contractors $6,500.

Police are looking for the driver of the silver or grey Dodge Caravan, which had a missing rear driver’s side hubcap.

“This is happening all across our county and all across the state. Construction thefts are up. We’re seeing it everything from plywood to cabinets to appliances,” said Brown.

“Materials are scarce. There’s not enough to go around to be honest with you,” said Zach Diaz, with Diaz Family Homes of Central Florida and president of the Polk County Builders’ Association.

Diaz said it would be painful to lose 100 sheets of plywood because of the lumber shortage.

“Number one to get material back, you don’t just call and get more back the next day anymore. It may take a few days to get your turn in the line to get it. And then also the cost of that,” said Diaz.

The price for lumber skyrocketed to an all-time high last month.

However, lumber futures for July delivery dropped more than 40%. With July futures trading Tuesday at $967, compared to a peak of $1,670.50 in May.

But, Diaz says, that drop has not yet been felt by local contractors and their suppliers.

“They’re still shipping us materials that they bought weeks ago or months ago and even the stuff they’re buying from the mills right now hasn’t reflected a decrease yet. It just recently flattened,” he said.

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