Investigators called to the Fallston Recreation Center on Monday may have wondered why a power outage at the facility's signature playing field was also a matter for police.
"What apparently had happened... there's a volt box in the ground that runs the wires to all the lights at rec center, and someone had taken the bolts out of the volt box and then pulled all the copper wire out and taken all the wire, which caused, of course, all the lights not to work," said Maj. William Davis of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.
At this point, it appears the theft happened overnight on Thursday in the midst of a girls' soccer tournament involving more than 200 teams and players ranging in age from 6 to 18 years old.
If not for the county bringing in more than a dozen temporary lights, the thieves might have cost the participants their tournament as well.
"They're going pretty low here,” said Dave Mitchell who had some family members participating in the tournament. “There's a lot of things---all these foreclosures. You buy a foreclosure (and) they steal the air conditioners, the generators, you name it, they steal it."
It's a point not lost upon law enforcers who have witnessed similar crimes on the rise.
"Over the summer, we had some construction sites and some houses that were broken into... vacant houses that were broken into where they were stealing copper and the ones where we were actually able to figure out who the suspects were often times it was related to the heroin epidemic, because it's the people who want to get the money to use the heroin are breaking into places and stealing the copper,” Davis said. “Stealing from a rec center is a little different here in Harford County, but hopefully we'll be able to figure out who did it."
Investigators say while the thieves will probably only get a few hundred dollars for the copper wire that was stolen, it's estimated it will cost the rec center $4,000 to replace it and to get the lights working again.