$25M worth of state property stolen, damaged, lost in last decade--including ranch dressing, turtle

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BySamantha Kummerer WTVD logo
Friday, July 22, 2022
$25M worth of state property stolen, damaged, lost in last decade
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Sometimes the items are recovered but the data shows just 5% of the lost value was recovered since 2012.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Every state agency and public university is required by North Carolina law to report stolen, lost and damaged property to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

The ABC11 I-Team obtained a copy of this data and found since 2012 those groups have lost more than $25 million worth of property funded by North Carolina taxpayers.

Annually, state-owned vehicles and guns are stolen, and laptops and phones are damaged. There are also multiple incidents of buildings and land experiencing thousands of dollars worth of damage. This loss of taxpayer-funded property ranges from over a million dollars to $2 per report.

The I-Team found around an average of $2 million worth of property falls on this list every year. The highest year in the last decade was 2020 when nearly $4 million worth of property was reported stolen, damaged or misused.

Nearly half of the claims in 2020 stemmed from the $1.6 million worth of estimated damage due to a fire at the Stagville Plantation in Durham. Other top expenses that year included someone using a computer to steal money at UNC-Chapel Hill and $193,000 worth of damaged plants at one of the state parks. Credit card-related theft also added up to more than $62,000 in 2020.

Around 60% of the reports in the last five years were caused by theft and 32% were caused by damages.

Last year, damages and theft to state-owned cars totaled around $16,000. Another $13,000 was connected to laptops and the state reported nearly $7,000 worth of stolen guns.

The I-Team also found a lot of pretty normal things, like missing batteries, broken windows, and misuse of cellphones.

Smaller things like graffiti at colleges, stolen ranch dressing and toothpaste also made the list.

On the slightly weirder side, the saber from East Carolina University's PeeDee Pirate statue was reported stolen. Vending machines were destroyed, state trees were illegally cut down and someone stole a turtle from the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

The amount of property misused, stolen and damaged in 2021 was half of what was reported in 2020 and was the lowest since 2015. So far this year, more than $300,000 worth of property has been reported to SBI with about $10,000 linked to fire damage at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Some of the value of the items are recovered but the I-Team found only about $1.2 million or 5% of the $25 million lost value was recovered since 2012.