Stolen Forestry equipment could affect disaster response time - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Stolen Forestry equipment could affect disaster response time

Items stolen (Source: State Forestry Commission) Items stolen (Source: State Forestry Commission)
Items stolen (Source: State Forestry Commission) Items stolen (Source: State Forestry Commission)
Items stolen (Source: State Forestry Commission) Items stolen (Source: State Forestry Commission)

By Brandi Cummings - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - $100,000 worth of equipment is stolen from the State Forestry Commission, and it will affect how its crews respond to a disaster.

Authorities don't have any suspects or surveillance video, so they are depending on local residents to help get the equipment back.

Some of the items taken include a generator, tools, four-wheelers, and even a vehicle with the State Forestry Commission logo on it. "Whoever took this stuff knew when to hit us, knew how to hit us and knew what to get," said Commission spokesman, Scott Hawkins.

Hawkins indicated someone stole the equipment from the shop complex sometime between December 23 and the 27. It was during the time workers were out for Christmas. "When thieves hit an agency like ours, they're not stealing from the agency," expressed Hawkins, "They're stealing from South Carolinians."

He said the stolen equipment is primarily used for emergency response. "We can only respond to the kind of disasters we're equipped to do so," stated Hawkins.

The tools and equipment were purchased with one-time Homeland Security money. Much of it is in good condition and will have to be replaced slowly. "At this point, we're still trying to figure out how we might recoup those funds to replace that gear," said Hawkins.

The Forestry Commission has a law enforcement division that handles crimes like timber theft and arson. Now, they're trying to solve a crime close to home. "We need this stuff back," said Hawkins, "South Carolina needs this stuff back. Hurricane season will come back. Wildfire season is coming. We need our gear."

If you have any information that can help get the equipment back, you're asked to call Crimestoppers.

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved.

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