Thieves plucked dozens of copper lightning rods from Riley Park in downtown Charleston last week.
The 60 12- to 14-inch rods worth $2,000 went missing along with 200 feet of woven copper cable, worth about $3,000, according to police. And the man who reported it to investigators believes some of his employees, who have been doing renovation work on the stadium since March, may be the culprits.
On May 24 Harry Oliver, Coastal Roofing Company’s superintendent, filed a complaint with the Charleston Police Department about missing building material, according to an incident report.
Oliver told police his company has been doing renovations on the stadium and materials had been set aside to be reused for the project, the report stated. He said the rods and cable had been removed from the building, placed on top of a roof at the park and covered with tarps, the report stated.
He told investigators that he discovered some of the materials were missing on May 22. Once he realized what was missing, he discovered some of his workers had been involved in the theft, according to the report.
Oliver said to investigators that he checked with Charleston Steel and found out that several of his employees had sold the stolen items, the report stated.
Another of his employees later told Oliver that the workers would put the items in trash bags, place them in woods near the dumpster and retrieve them after Oliver would leave for the day, stated the report.
Oliver told police he wasn’t sure which specific employees were involved but that he’d start establishing a list. When reached by phone by The Post and Courier for comment, Oliver said he didn’t want to comment yet because it’s still an ongoing investigation. Police have not arrested anyone in connection to the larceny.
The lucrative metal has been in high demand in recent years. So much so, that South Carolina passed a law in August 2011 in an effort to curb the copper thefts. The law requires anyone buying or selling copper to obtain a permit from their local sheriff’s offices.
But since the law’s inception, Charleston County Sheriff’s Office’s recorded number of copper thefts have remained relatively unchanged, according to Maj. Jim Brady.