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To keep quiet about thefts

(28 Posts)
Magpieinthehouse Sun 30-Sep-12 09:54:15

This is my first posting on this forum. I am a regular but a name changer. Sorry if this is a bit long.

We are having extensive building works on our house. The builders have been on site for several months now and we have a couple of months left to completion. We have been living in the house throughout and I am present most days.

When we came home from our annual holiday, we noticed that a few things had gone missing. Some were our own tools, such as a spirit level, which we can put down to someone borrowing and not putting back. However, someone had been into my husband's tool box and a full box of drilling bits had gone. More worrying, a couple of bottles of expensive after shave had disappeared. We have just noticed that several bottles of booze have gone (they were stored in the garage), including a full litre of scotch and an expensive unopened bottle of brandy. Other bottles are missing too, but I don't know what they were, just that the box of booze was packed tightly, and now there are gaps. The top has gone from a bottle of port. Okay, we are not talking about hundreds of pounds, but we are now anxious that we have a thief in the house, especially as I have quite a bit of work coming up, which means I shall be out of the house more.

Our problem is that there have been scores of guys in the house over the past few months, as the builder sub-contracts most of the work. We are confident that the two guys who are on site most of the time have had nothing to do with the thefts. One arrived after we noticed things were missing and the other relies on lifts to and from work and could hardly smuggle a bottle of scotch under his coat. In any event, both are really nice guys and I couldn't believe it of them.

A further complication is one of the skilled guys who is on site quite a bit is someone we found ourselves through Checkatrade.

My husband wants to talk to the builder (who is very rarely on site himself) and to the guy we set on, about the thefts, but am I being unreasonable to want to stay quiet, at least until the work is finished? If I were an innocent person working in a house and the owner mentioned something like this, I would feel very uncomfortable and wouldn't want to be there. The house is in complete chaos at the moment and I just want it finished. If the guy we set on takes offence and pulls out, we will need to find someone to take over from where he left off. It's all more than I can bear.

Has anyone out there been in a similar situation, from the householder or builder sides?

comedycentral Sun 30-Sep-12 09:55:38

Could you set up a camera around some valuables?

Magpieinthehouse Sun 30-Sep-12 09:58:42

I hadn't thought about that. I think I would feel pretty uncomfortable about that TBH.

Gigondas Sun 30-Sep-12 10:02:55

Also don't you have to let people know they are being filmed? Like those notices on CCTV . I know that this has come up before when people talk about filming nannies .

I would talk to main builder - you don't know who is taking it obviously but say you are concerned about issue and effect on your insurance . No point in saying nothing as it is an issue .

comedycentral Sun 30-Sep-12 10:04:12

I would talk to the builder then. If I was him I would want to know.

lolaflores Sun 30-Sep-12 10:04:37

the secret cameras are very much in grey territory. unless you want to confront the person with evidence, but not sure if it contravenes something

Collar your builder, explain the missing items. Tell him that if the goods are not returned or the offender fingered you will ask him to refund the costs of the goods. the workmen are under his supervision so he must take responsibility. you will call the police. Strap on a box of unreasonable.

I am sure he is a nice person, but essentially you have strangers wandering in and out so you need to ensure that your home is secure. do not be nice

Magpieinthehouse Sun 30-Sep-12 10:10:24

I wouldn't use cameras, legal or not. The problem with telling the builder is that he will have a go at the guys on site, and we think that the thefts probably happened a few weeks ago, when different contractors were on site. We suspect he will blame the guy we brought in.

lolaflores Sun 30-Sep-12 10:19:19

get back to the original guys. someone is responsible for this. nasty feeling that someone has had a good root through your belongings. maybe an idea to lock up anything that could be lifted in future too

JesusInTheCabbageVan Sun 30-Sep-12 10:19:31

I don't think you have to let someone know they're being filmed, as long as you're not planning to publish the footage. I could be wrong, but in any case I think a thief would be in a pretty weak position legally if he wanted to object being filmed. I'd go with the camera suggestion.

OwedToAutumn Sun 30-Sep-12 10:20:38

We have had items stolen when we've had building work done. It's often tools. One chap stole our gates which we had taken off, and we're going to put elsewhere! (We did get them back.)

The trouble is, as you say, it's hard to know who has taken them. You could mention it to the builder, but there isn't much he can do, either - they are subcontractors, not employes, and there are quite a number of them.

The best you can do is securely lock your things up. Lock your shed, and don't let them use your tools. (They should have their own.) Lock up any other valuables/ alcohol in rooms they don't need to go into.

It's a pain, I know.

whois Sun 30-Sep-12 10:20:41

Talk to the main contractor boss guy - he needs to know what has happened

OwedToAutumn Sun 30-Sep-12 10:21:24


eurochick Sun 30-Sep-12 10:22:02

I would talk to the builder. Anyone he brings on to site is his responsibility. If he won't take it seriously, I would go to the police.

Catsu Sun 30-Sep-12 10:22:29

I'd tell your builders. If you trust the two main ones then tell them that but also tell them that they need to be more careful who they sub contract to as it affects their reputation!!

Miltonia Sun 30-Sep-12 10:22:36

A few ideas- how about taking an inventory of the booze and leave it prominently so the workmen know you know exactly what is there. Also take a photo of everything.

Get a lock on your bedroom door and leave other valuables in there and lock up if you go out.

Get a safe for jewellery, passports etc

You will not get back what you lost and I think it might create bad feeling if you say anything. I would be tempted to write off the losses but try to prevent new ones

Miltonia Sun 30-Sep-12 10:25:08

Lots of x-posts due to my slow typing.

fait Sun 30-Sep-12 11:09:41

Maybe tell them as part of the works, you are having CCTV put in and warn (jokingly) that when it is being tested the may find themselves on camera ...

I can understand why you would not want to make a fuss, but clearly there is a thief and, if not stopped, will do it again and next time it may be more expensive items from someone who cannot afford the loss.

You may not have noticed more expensive items gone missing yet - and if you want to claim from theinsurance, the police do need to be involved.

coldcupoftea Sun 30-Sep-12 11:20:54

I would tell the builder and make sure everyone working in the house knows it has been noticed. If the thief is still there it might at least put them off taking anything else.

We had all the windows replaced, which took about 2 weeks. DH said he was sure someone had been in the shed as things had been moved- I said he was being paranoid. On the very last day they left both his expensive bikes were taken from the shed. We complained to the window company and called the police, but there was no proof angry

JeezyOrangePips Sun 30-Sep-12 11:22:05

Or instead of leaving lying around a list of what is there - how about a list of what is missing, and at the bottom - police file reference and a made up number.

IneedAsockamnesty Sun 30-Sep-12 11:54:12

how about mentioning it as a sort of 'make sure you lock cars be careful of valubles and could you mention if you see a stranger with a swagbag' type thing that way they know you know but dont think you blame them and you get to sound concerned about the possibility of there stuff being nicked.

dysfunctionalme Sun 30-Sep-12 11:58:21

We had this.

We were away from the house so removing alcohol, valuables and disconnecting phone lines did not inconvenience us.

We did mention to builder but he denied all knowledge/was an arse.

Magpieinthehouse Sun 30-Sep-12 12:14:40

Thank you everyone. Sorry I had to go off and do some clearing up (it really is chaos here!). And sorry if I don;t respond to eveyone individually.

The guys who are on site are just employees, so if we raise it with the main guy, I shall have a word with them in advance. We are as certain as we can be that it isn't either of them. We are struggling to believe it is the skilled guy we brought in as he is being paid a fair whack and it really is more than his career is worth.

Lolaflores - yes, I am really concerned that someone has been rifling through my things. I have checked my jewellery box and everything is there. I suspect the thief is being careful not to take anything that would cause a major fuss, IYSWIM.

Owedtoautumn, it looks as if it's fairly common for builders to take what they remove from a house without checking whether you want to reuse it or not. We had two good sets of taps and an almost new shower go somewhere or other when we were on holiday, and we are going to be more bullish about letting them know what they need to leave here for us to either reuse or sell on ourselves.

We can't lock any room up, as everywhere is being affected by the work. We shall have to buy a safe or something though.

Fait, you make a good point about insurance. Also, I agree that the builder needs to know that he may be employing a thief. In fact, he may have had similar complaints before, so I am warming to the idea of telling him. BTW, we are not filthy rich, so I don't think we can afford for things to go missing, especially with the building works going over-budget. But I take your point.

Oh dear, coldcupoftea. I think you might have made my mind up for me!

Magpieinthehouse Sun 30-Sep-12 12:16:55

Disfunction - sorry you had the same thing. Being in the house makes it more difficult because I have a good relationship with the guys on site at the moment. I have been looking after them all well with teas/biscuits/cakes/ice creams when it's hot/hot dogs when it's cold. I'm gutted really.

WanderingWhistle Sun 30-Sep-12 12:17:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dysfunctionalme Sun 30-Sep-12 12:21:27

Yeah it's horrible. You have to be able to trust people who are in your home but sadly you can't.

I think in your case tell them builder. But together a list and, if you can, times when you noticed they had gone. I think if you appeal to his pride and honesty, he will be as gutted as you and help you out.

Good luck.

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