Thieves steal equipment from Atlanta-based contracting team

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Thieves steal equipment from contracting team, Deborah Wrigley reports. (KTRK)

Gary Lancaster brought his TruRenu truck full of equipment and a crew from Atlanta to Houston to remove sheet rock and kill mold on flood damaged homes. He fears he'll leave Houston without $100,000 of equipment thieves stole from a hotel parking lot last week.

"I thought one of the crew was playing a joke on me, and had move the truck," he said.

If only it had been a joke.

The equipment includes industrial grade dehumidifiers, generators, mold measuring devices and more. TruRenu is a licensed remediation contractor and was retained by several insurance companies for policy-holders in the Houston area. The company was scheduled for at least five jobs. Now, Lancaster is trying to do the work with the few pieces of equipment that was on another truck to complete the work.

On Sunday night, he was alerted to some of the stolen equipment on the OfferUp website.

"I tried to buy it," he said. "But it already came back as sold."

Monday, his crew was removing sheet rock, carpeting, flooring and furniture from a home in the Nottingham Oaks subdivision. Flooded homes had standing water inside for two weeks because of the dam releases. Mold already stained the walls because, until this weekend, homeowners said the area was unreachable.

"He's a victim of Harvey, just like the rest of us," said Jill Hoffman, who was helping family members tackle sheetrock removal at her mother's home across the street.

Lancaster said he's already having to turn down calls from Charleston, where he helped remediate homes last year after another flood.

"We're a small company, and this is a big loss, for us and our customers," he said.

His truck and the equipment trailer ware also stolen. Those were insured, but the equipment was not, because insurance companies don't like to insure items that are sometimes left off-site at construction jobs.

Lancaster is a man of faith.

"I think the people who stole this are lost. They need to find their way back and build integrity and character," he said.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office is investigating.

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