Expensive heavy machinery missing | ParkRecord.com

Expensive heavy machinery missing

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

A construction crew is missing a pricey piece of equipment, and the Park City Police Department is investigating whether it was stolen or a crew misplaced the excavator.

According to Phil Kirk, a Police Department lieutenant, the excavator was last seen on July 15 in a rental yard on Munchkin Road. Kirk says someone wanted to rent the excavator, but the company was unable to find the machine.

Police Department logs show the excavator was reported missing at 1:24 p.m. on July 19. The case occurred at 1690 Munchkin Road. The logs indicate the machine’s value is $58,000, making it one of the most expensive items taken in Park City in recent years.

Kirk says the company checked its paperwork but was unable to find a record of it being out on a rental. The company, which the police do not identify, then reported it stolen.

"It’s a high-value excavator. The question we’re still investigating (is) whether it was actually stolen," Kirk says.

According to the lieutenant, the company had been searching for the equipment for about a month before it was reported to the police.

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The excavator is orange with black trim, and a company called Kubota made the equipment. On its World Wide Web site, Kubota, a Japanese company, advertises four series of construction equipment. The company indicates Kubota or related firms manufacture or sell in more than 130 countries.

"We don’t have machinery stolen like this," Kirk says.

Thefts at construction sites in Park City are commonplace. In many of those cases, the thieves take smaller tools or supplies, such as wiring. It is rare that someone takes a piece of heavy equipment, however.

The construction business, though, is humming in and around Park City, with the industry setting a record in 2006 and continuing its hot pace in 2007. Similar pieces of construction equipment are seen at numerous jobsites in the area.

The police have said construction equipment and supplies can be sold on the black market or used by people who take the goods. The value of equipment and supplies taken from construction sites in the area is difficult to determine.

Geri Strand, who is the executive officer of the Park City Area Home Builders Association, says the case is "surprising." She says the value of the machinery makes it a rare local case.

"To me, it sounds like a big item to be taken," Strand says.

She reports people in the construction industry worry about stolen equipment, and she says they say thefts occur frequently.

"According to our builders, it is very prevalent. It’s big concern for most of our builders," Strand says, calling such thefts "nonstop." "Constantly, there’s things being taken out of people’s trucks at the worksite."

A string of high-dollar cases has perplexed Park City investigators since 2006, when losses totaled more than $1.7 million, the worst year in the city’s history. That year, the amount soared 127 percent above 2005, climbing after cases like the theft of seven ritzy watches, with a combined retail value of $106,500, and the theft of a $40,000 fur coat.

People with information about the excavator can contact the Police Department at 615-5500. The excavator’s identification number, which is printed on the back of the machine, is 10-1208-0017.