More than $15,000 in materials and equipment were stolen this week from the construction site of the new Lady's Island-St. Helena Fire District headquarters.
Construction on the headquarters at 146 Lady's Island Drive was shut down for only about an hour as investigators searched for clues to the theft, which is believed to have occurred Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, fire district spokesman Lee Levesque said.
A representative of one of the theft victims, Pender Brothers Inc., noticed at 8 a.m. Wednesday that a large amount of copper piping was missing, according to a news release from the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office. Most of the pipes had already been installed and had been cut out of the ceilings and walls.
"Unfortunately they have to put everything back in, but it shouldn't slow them down," Levesque said. "The completion date hasn't changed. We're going to do everything we can to keep on trucking."
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Construction started after a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 12. The 12,000-square-foot station is expected to be completed by mid-March at a cost of no more than $3.4 million, Fire Chief Bruce Kline said in September.
Levesque said insurers for the department and contractor should cover the costs of the stolen materials, and the theft should not cause any cost overruns. He added that the department would work with the Sheriff's Office to find those responsible.
"We look at it as stealing from the taxpayers, and we're not too happy with that," he said.
A Quality Electrical Systems representative also reported Wednesday that a lock had been cut off of a company work trailer that had contained rolls of wiring, a hammer drill, accessories and extension cords -- all of which were missing.
Levesque said the security around the construction site has been increased after the thefts, like fencing ringing the site, video surveillance, and increased patrols by the Sheriff's Office and firefighters.
Anyone with information on the thefts can contact investigators at 843-255-3408 or S.C. Crime Stoppers at 888-274-6372 or text the word TIPSC with a message to CRIMES (274637).