Thieves ripped out more than $20,000 in electrical wiring at five schools across Anne Arundel County this month, school officials said.
Copper wiring was the target at stadium lights for three high schools—Broadneck High, Old Mill High and North County High, said Anne Arundel County spokesperson Maneka Monk. Wiring for portable classrooms at two elementary schools—Shipley’s Choice and High Point—was also stolen, rendering the lights inoperable.
Rocco Ferretti, Shipley's principal, said that the wiring was stolen from portables they had readied to move to another location on campus. He said the wiring is due to be replaced before the beginning of the new school year. In the meantime, there is no air conditioning or electricity to the portables, which are not being used in the summer months.
The thefts took place between July 7 and July 23. Old Mill was hit twice, Monk said. Damages have been estimated at more than $20,000. The school system will have to pay for the losses and repairs out of pocket. Some of the lights, including Broadneck High’s, were installed recently.
“We have already ordered all the necessary parts and are working to replace them as quickly as we can,” Monk said.
Surveillance footage documenting the nights of the crimes at affected schools has been turned over to Anne Arundel County police investigators, Monk said.
The fields at Broadneck are used for county sports over the summer. When lacrosse teams arrived for a game earlier this month, they were unable to play because critical wiring had been ripped out.
Broadneck High’s Athletics Director Ken Kazmarek said it was a shame thieves would stoop to stealing equipment that benefits children.
“For some of these places, these were brand new lights,” Kazmarek said. “It’s really disheartening. Hopefully they’ll be fixed soon.”
The fall sports season begins at Broadneck High on Aug. 11, Kazmarek said. Replacements for the lights are scheduled to take at least a week—hopefully in time for the season to begin.