Hank Investigates: Secret stealing
Cars stolen from locked parking lots, projectors swiped from conference rooms and more than a hundred computers vanished. All equipment used in state agencies and state schools, you paid for it all, now it's gone.
John Hoey, UMass Dartmouth
"If we knew who took it we could get it back, it's stolen."
Copiers, monitors, cameras, all state property, all mysteriously missing.
Jon Carlisle, Mass Highway
"It's something were very concerned about."
The total taxpayer rip-off in the past two years as reported to the state auditor on this list we obtained, more than $1 million.
Hank Phillippi Ryan
"Is that too much?"
Joseph DeNucci, MA State Auditor
"It's a $1 million too much."
Secret stealing, discovered at every one of these state agencies:
Mass Highway Department was hit the most often.18 laptops vanished from a storeroom. Two cars and a truck stolen from gated lots. A copier, strobe lights and a printer; losses totaling more than $68,000.
"What do you say to taxpayers? This is their money."
"Well, we say that we've taken additional steps to increase security."
At state colleges the taxpayer tab is massive, almost $625,000. We found big ticket items disappear almost daily: a lawnmower, a weed cutter, speakers, radios, a camcorder, a drill, iPods, furniture, cameras, dozens of projectors and more than a hundred computers. This list is from UMass Dartmouth alone.
"How can that happen?"
"I think... I think it's an issue that every institution, every company, every business faces."
But our investigation found that some stealing stays secret. Police records we obtained reveal someone made off with three computers, a projector and a monitor from the Massachusetts Health and Human Services office. But even though the law requires reporting it, the state auditor was never told.
"Why is that?"
Dick Powers, HHS
"There's no excuse for it. It's something that fell through the cracks."
At Bristol Community College we found officials actually making up their own rules, deciding not to report thefts under a $1,000. Even though this list we obtained proves someone swiped seven computers a monitor and a projector, the auditor never knew it.
"Can they do this?"
Joe De Nucci
"They must follow the law."
"And right now?"
Joe De Nucci
Reported or not the rip-offs often remain a mystery. Most stolen state property is never recovered, and our investigation found, most of these crimes are never solved. That means the total taxpayer tab is actually higher! When stolen items aren't recovered they must be replaced at full value and you have to pay for that too.
(Copyright (c) 2006 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)