DALLAS (CBS11) – Dallas Police say they have recently seen a spike in residential burglaries of houses in northeast Dallas that are either vacant or under construction.

As a result, DPD says it has made a list of the houses in this area and is conducting extra patrols to make sure they aren’t hit by thieves.

Jessie Lozano, a plumber for 35 years, says he was thrown for a loop this week when someone stole a new toilet bowl right out of this house before he and his nephew could install it.

“That’s just the strangest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s a first. We figured there was a lot better things than a toilet to be stolen around here.”

Lozano says thieves usually steal lighting fixtures, air conditioning units and anything with copper.

His nephew, Ryan says the thieves struck while they were working in another part of the house. “They just took off driving, but like he said, it’s just a toilet bowl. You can’t do anything without a tank.”

The theft at the house being built by Habitat for Humanity came on the same day former Dallas Mavericks basketball player Charlie Villanueva said it happened to him.

He tweeted a photo after someone stole a toilet and appliances out of the house in Dallas he is remodeling.

Former Dallas Maverick Charlie Villanueva tweeted about a burglary in his home where his toilet was stolen. (Source: Charlie Villanueva/Twitter)

Villanueva declined an interview, but said in his tweet he couldn’t get his mind off it.

Lt. Lance Koppa of the Highland Park Department of Public Safety said, “I’m as surprised as he was about the theft.”

Koppa said after a theft ring stole nearly a million dollars worth of appliances at homes under construction in 2008 and 2009, they’ve seen these crimes dwindle.

Koppa says contractors have installed cameras at their job sites, and the city’s building inspectors have allowed contractors to put in appliances as late in the process as possible to make sure the homes can be locked and alarm systems can be activated. “That has absolutely helped with the vigilance of the construction site. It’s helped with the reduction of high-end appliance thefts.”

He says because thieves often strike during the long holiday weekend, officers will conduct patrols around job sites to make sure they aren’t burglarized.