USA — Sophisticated thieves pilfered some $100,000 of emergency response equipment from the S.C. Forestry Commission’s main maintenance and storage area in Columbia sometime during the Christmas break, officials said Thursday.
Missing items include equipment the agency needs for emergency response, said commission spokesman Scott Hawkins.
“Many of the items are things our Incident Management Team must have to respond to large-scale disasters, such as the bigger wildfires and hurricanes,” he said.
“This was not a happy Christmas for us,” Hawkins said.
Among the items taken were 13 Dell laptops, two all-terrain vehicles equipped for law enforcement and firefighting duties, various tools and a Ford F350 diesel flatbed truck adorned with the agency’s logo.
“While we remain prepared to protect South Carolinians during the upcoming wildfire season, our ability to mobilize for large-scale disasters is greatly hindered because of the gear they chose to steal,” Hawkins said, adding much of it was acquired with federal Homeland Security grants and won’t be replaced easily.
Intruders entered the Forestry Commission’s complex by cutting through a locked gate.
The theft was discovered Monday when a supervisor went to get a piece of equipment at the shop complex.
“I would stop short of calling it an inside job, but whoever did it knew what they were doing and knew the place,” Hawkins said.