PITTSFIELD -- The administrators and volunteers for Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity are disappointed, but not daunted after someone stole the power tools from one of their home building projects.
"This is the first time in our 21 years we've had an incident," said Carolyn Valli, Central Berkshire Habitat's executive director.
"This build will also be our first fully handicap-accessible house, which is more expensive and makes [the incident] more upsetting," she said.
The organization's regular crew of volunteers discovered the tools were gone when they showed up Wednesday morning to work on the house, located at 166 Dewey Ave., according to Valli. This included power drills, impact screwdrivers and Sawzall power hand-cutters.
"The strange thing about it was they stole the tools, which are cordless, but they didn't steal the chargers and batteries," said Valli.
She said she believes the tools could have been stolen over the weekend.
Though students from Taconic High School are on-site Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays to work, they bring their own tools.
"They wouldn't have noticed anything missing because they don't go into the basement where our tools were stored," she said.
There are no doors yet on the structure. Habitat volunteer Steve Mole said the perpetrators would have had to remove a plywood panel covering where the basement entrance will be built to go inside and look for the tools.
Valli said a site volunteer filed a police report. Pittsfield police told The Eagle on Friday that it's under investigation. Valli said she also plans on contacting the local neighborhood watch group to find out if they saw anything suspicious.
In the meantime, Valli worked with volunteers on Friday to begin procuring new tools; she estimated the stolen tools cost $1,700.
In chilly air but beneath sunny skies, Mole raked up yard debris while Taconic High School carpentry shop leader William Lyon worked with juniors Robert Hayden and Ben Houghtaling to smooth stucco over the home's exposed foundation. Other crews are helping to install windows and sheet rock this week. Next week, Taconic seniors will begin to construct ramps for the home's entryways.
As a three-year volunteer, Hayden has put in more than 300 hours of sweat equity into area Habitat homes, but this project's special -- he'll be moving into the Dewey Avenue home when it's completed with his mother, Bonnie Hayden, who is assisted by wheelchair, and his brother, Andrew.
Robert said that stealing tools from Habitat "is a little messed up," but it doesn't affect his work. "I keep busy."
Houghtaling said he likes being able to both work on the house and support his classmate. "It's good work. I love it," he said.
Valli said she hopes communities nationwide can rally to support their local Habitat for Humanity organizations, particularly because there have been other criminal incidents this month on other Habitat sites in the country.
Earlier this month, police in Oakland, Calif., were called to investigate a violent armed robbery at an East Oakland Habitat construction site. A group of men allegedly came onto site, including one armed with a gun, and asked people for their wallets and cellphones. One of the workers was pistol whipped.
On Tuesday in Worcester, a 16-foot Habitat ReStore box truck, which is used to collect donations of construction materials, was stolen in the night and set ablaze.
"It does make me nervous," said Valli.
She added that Central Berkshire Habitat is continuously looking for volunteers, donations and also support through a Nov. 9 program, "Giving Thanks," which will include dinner and live music with proceeds to benefit the charitable chapter.
"After all this, now we're really hoping people come to the event," she said.