APEX, N.C. (WNCN) – The construction sites of two Wake County Schools have fallen prey to thieves and vandals just weeks before the schools are scheduled to open.
At Abbotts Creek Elementary in Raleigh, close to 7,000 pounds of copper was stolen in an overnight theft earlier in June.
That copper has an estimated value of more than $20,000.
Raleigh police said Willie James Harrison, 54, stole the material and sold it to a recycling firm for about $1,500.
Harrison record shows he has a history of similar offenses and now he is charged with stealing from the contractor building Abbotts Creek.
But vandalism has become a major problem at Scotts Ridge Elementary School in Apex.
“We’ve had kids get into the building. They’ve spray painted obscenities in the building and took an oil-based paint and threw it on some doors, brickwork and concrete,” said Tom Guilford, construction superintendent.
Unlike Abbotts Creek, Scotts Ridge is protected by a security fence but officials said kids are finding a way through.
“To date, we’ve got 36 man hours wrapped up in cleaning that one door opening that they damaged,” Guilford said.
The contractor sent an email to the adjacent Scotts Ridge neighborhood asking parents for help in stopping the vandalism.
That vandalism apparently extends beyond the construction site.
“They’ve been taking the cones and blocking off the roads and apparently throwing rocks and doing all kinds of other mischievous things to neighborhood residents,” Guilford said.
The contractor has asked the local police to step up patrols in the area but Guilford said neighbors have to step up, too.
“It’s parents being aware of what they’re doing. If they see them come home with paint or see odd behavior that they ask their kids about it,” Guilford said.
Wake schools said the incidents are not common and the two schools should still open on time later this summer despite the incidents.