Beaumont Independent School District police are currently investigating the theft of copper wire at four BISD campuses.
BISD spokesperson Ron Reynolds said at a press conference at the Bingman Headstart Pre-K4 Center on Wednesday, Aug. 14, that Price Elementary School, Vincent Middle School, the Paul A. Brown Center and Bingman all had overnight copper thefts over a two-week period, which left them with damaged and nonfunctional air conditioner chillers. Bingman was the most recent campus hit the night of Aug. 13 or the early morning of Aug. 14.
BISD Police Detective Sergeant Danny Moore said investigators are currently reviewing videos and testing physical evidence left at the scene by the perpetrators. Moore said because the insulated copper electrical wire was a large gauge and hundreds of feet were stolen at each of the four locations, he believes more than one person is responsible for the thefts, which started with Price Elementary.
“In my opinion, it's not just one person,” Moore said. He said at least two shadows could be seen on the video, so at least two people committed all four thefts. He said because the modus operandi was the same in each theft and hundreds of feet were taken from each campus, he is “sure” the same perpetrators hit all four locations. He said he thinks at least one of those responsible has some knowledge of electrical systems because otherwise they would not have known where or how to disable the power to the A/C units.
BISD’s HVAC and plumbing supervisor Robert Mann said despite the expense, he will make sure the A/C units for every school affected by the thefts are up and running in time for the start of classes on Aug. 26.
“We’re doing our due diligence to get it together,” Mann said. “We will get it done.”
He said he would likely have to hire a contractor to help with the repairs. Reynolds said the estimated cost, including contract labor and materials, would be approximately $33,000.
Bingman Principal Lisa Bolton said teachers have been showing up for work at the center and preparing for the upcoming school year despite the lack of A/C.
“We have dedicated teachers who have been working, and now they are working in the heat,” Bolton said. “They’re troopers.”
Bolton said she is shocked someone would steal from schools serving local children and utilizing taxpayer dollars.
“I can’t believe someone has the heart and the nerve to do this,” she said.
Sgt. Moore said the schools are located in neighborhoods where he believes someone must have seen something during the thefts.
“Somebody knows what’s going on,” he speculated. He asked that anyone with information regarding these thefts call the BISD police at (409) 617-7001.