Inhumanity breaks in to noble work of Habitat for Humanity

YOUNGSTOWN — Volunteer Steve Stoyak of Liberty calls the theft of copper pipes and tools from a home on Lansdowne Boulevard being rehabilitated by Habitat for Humanity of the Mahoning Valley “sad.”

“You’ve got Habitat for Humanity people in this community trying to do good by its residents, and there was no mistaking it was a Habitat house because there was a big sign out front. So whoever broke in there went in without any consideration for what the organization was trying to do or consideration for the family that will benefit,” he said.

Mark Everly, construction director for Habitat for Humanity of the Mahoning Valley, said when Habitat volunteers were informed recently that the project would be on hold because of a break-in late July, they were “very upset,” he said.

“They had invested a great deal of time in the project so far, most of them at least two days a week for a month or more. They were invested in this house,” Everly said, standing inside the structure recently.

“It’s a shame people would be so inconsiderate of other people,” said Stoyak, a retired supply-chain manager.

Someone broke in through a back basement window of the home and cut off copper piping running through the basement. It ran to the washing machine, wash tub and hot water heater. They also took the piping for the kitchen sink.

Also, thieves went upstairs and took Habitat’s cordless drills, driver drills, batteries and battery chargers. Everly estimates there were about eight tools, six battery chargers and 10 to 12 rechargeable batteries, both Milwaukee and Porter Cable brands.

He said the loss was submitted to insurance, but he does not know the total value of the tools and copper taken. Some additional items also were taken, but some items were left behind as if the thief or thieves were on foot or in a hurry, Everly said.

“Some of it was new, but some of the tools were older,” he said. “Once the theft was discovered, we cleared the house completely out of the other tools and materials that were of value.”

“We’re no longer going to keep tools and materials on the site. We’re going to have to haul them in every day when we’re working there,” he said.


Everly said the Habitat volunteers are “eager to get back to it, and we’re going to repair the plumbing ourselves and move forward. We’re going to put in the plastic piping to avoid any future problems,” he said.

He said anyone who would try to steal the plastic piping would find that there is no scrap value for it. He also is putting in glass block windows to try to avoid another break-in. He said the thief or thieves apparently left the house through the same window but put a ladder up to the window to get out.

Everly said he had been at the house that day. He left and returned later that afternoon and discovered a broken latch leading to the basement, causing him to check the basement, discover the thefts and call police. The doors to the house were still locked.

Everly said because the copper was stolen, the house has no running water, so progress on the project has been halted.

“We don’t have a working toilet or sink, so that will put the volunteering on hold until I can get the plumbing redone or at least enough of it so that those facilities will be up and running again,” Everly said.

He hoped to have the plumbing in the bathroom restored this week.

“It’s definitely going to set us back because we have to redo the plumbing, which wasn’t anticipated or planned on, but we are also losing time by not being able to have the volunteers there to move forward in other regards. It’s going to have an impact.”

He said he does not know what the reimbursement will be from the insurance company.


Everly has been in construction since 1991 and has been Habitat’s construction director one year. Habitat for Humanity of the Mahoning Valley covers Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.

Habitat for Humanity is still looking for a “partner family” to inhabit the home when it is done, Everly said. The family is called a “partner” because the family contributes work to the project.

“A family will contribute 500 hours of time to the house, and every member of the family, any time they spend there counts toward their time,” he said. “It gives them an opportunity to work on their own house, to take pride in ownership. And once the house is complete, Habitat will be the mortgage holder, and we will provide them a zero-percent interest loan for up to 30 years. We will make sure their payment is not more than 30 percent of their monthly income, including taxes, insurance and payment.”

The Lansdowne property is the second Habitat For Humanity of the Mahoning Valley home this year. It placed a family in a home in Warren in May. Habitat also was offered another home in Warren, but it will take some time to acquire ownership of it, Everly said.

Habitat began another construction project in New Waterford last Monday to build an addition to help the family’s 7-year-old daughter, who has a medical condition that caused loss of motor function.

“They live in a two-story home. We are going to be the general contractor for a downstairs bedroom and bathroom and medical closet, things of that nature, so her quality of life can be much improved,” Everly said.




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