City Workers Goof, Leave Warehouse Unattended

Exterior views of a City of Chicago Warehouse, where copper coils were stolen. Signs mounted on the fence, This building under T.V. Surveillance. (Scott Stewart/Sun-Times)

Yet another security breach was reported at a South Side municipal warehouse that earlier this year saw two tons of copper-lined cable vanish in a still-unsolved theft.

Days after the Better Government Association publicized the cable heist at 940 W. Exchange—home base for city crews that install and maintain security systems at local government facilities—workers left open a garage door when they departed for the day.

The building, located in the old stockyards area, was left wide open on June 14 for roughly seven hours, with no workers present, until about 10:30 p.m., when an employee showed up and tripped an alarm that sent police to the scene, according to police and city officials.

Although the cable theft is being investigated as a possible inside job, the latest incident is considered a mistake, city officials said.

It could have been an expensive misstep, especially since the warehouse is filled with pricey equipment and materials—the cable stolen in March was worth at least $20,000—and equipped with surveillance cameras and alarms that, city officials have acknowledged, don’t always function.

Apparently, nothing was stolen while the door was open, but this is another black eye for Chicago’s Department of General Services, which runs the facility and whose chief told the BGA he’s considering shuttering the site and consolidating operations elsewhere.

“We’re certainly taking all of this very seriously,” David Reynolds, General Services Commissioner, said. “Part of what we’re doing is looking at remote locations and putting them in places where there’s better control. Our ultimate goal is better inventory control.”

An employee who works at the Exchange building and asked not to be identified told the BGA: “There’s going to be some procedures put in place so this doesn’t happen again. It’s usually the last guy out [securing the building.] It was kind of a miscommunication.”

This story was written and reported by BGA Senior Investigator Patrick Rehkamp. He can be reached at (312) 386-9201 or at prehkamp@bettergov.org.

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1 Comment

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One response to “City Workers Goof, Leave Warehouse Unattended

  1. Pingback: No Amount of Austerity: Fixing Chicago’s Budget | The Peter Principle

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