Jessica Barga, Staff Writer

On Jan. 16, a generator and several other pieces of equipment, valued at about $5,435, were found to be missing at the construction site of the new Talawanda High School (THS), according to police reports.

“The generator had been sitting outside the building area and was taken off the premises,” Kelly Spivey, superintendent of the Talawanda school district, said. “This is now the third time a piece of equipment has been stolen from contractors.”

According to police reports, the generator was first suspected to be stolen Jan. 11. However, Jan. 16, several other pieces of equipment were also discovered to be missing.

The construction site was also the target of copper theft on Dec. 6, when copper wiring estimated to be worth about $16,000 was stolen from the THS construction site, according to Holli Morrish, director of public relations for the district.

“They were able to take a significant amount of copper wire off the construction site,” Morrish said.

The wiring was being stored on-site on large rolls, off which the desired amount could be removed, Morrish said.

“One of the unfortunate things about it was that we were in the process of installing our security package,” Morrish said. “The motion sensors were supposed to be activated on the evening of Dec. 5, but there was a delay.”

Morrish said the theft prompted some quick thinking.

“The district worked with the construction team to really get working on getting the security package in place [after the theft occurred],” Morrish said.

However, the theft did not have any significant impact on the construction progress of the school, according to Morrish.

Sgt. Jon Varley from the Oxford Police Department said no arrests have been made in the case.

In reference to the copper theft over winter break from Miami University, Varley said, “Any connection between the two incidents is still being investigated.”

Other construction companies in the area have escaped the recent problems of stolen supplies.

“Luckily, we have not experienced any recent thefts in Oxford, copper or otherwise,” Pam Lindley of Hotel Development Services, the parent company of Oxford’s CKC Construction, said via email.

However, Lindley did note the company has dealt with the issue in the past, now taking “precautionary measures for theft” by using an alarm system on construction sites.

“For a developer, not only is there a cost of whatever gets stolen, but also the labor to replace [materials] and the time delays involved,” Lindley said. “Theft is a problem that hurts the entire community. Hopefully the rash of recent theft will disappear so Oxford can keep thriving.”