INDIANAPOLIS – Steel cables that were part of the stage rigging structure that collapsed and killed seven people at last year's Indiana State Fair were stolen last weekend from a warehouse where the wreckage from the collapse is being stored under a court order, state police said.
The theft from an Indianapolis warehouse was discovered Monday, State Police Capt. Dave Bursten said Friday. He said investigators believe the thieves weren't targeting the stage wreckage, but were instead searching for metals to sell and spotted the coiled cables after stripping the warehouse of its electrical wiring, leaving it without power.
"They broke in for the purpose of stripping the electrical wiring from the facility and then while they were there, criminals being criminals, it was 'Oh, there's something else we can steal,'" Bursten said.
He said it appears that the thieves "circumvented" the building's security system.
The warehouse is being leased by the Indiana State Fair Commission.
The wreckage was moved to the warehouse months after high winds ahead of a severe thunderstorm toppled stage rigging on Aug. 13, 2011, onto fans and others awaiting the start of a concert by country duo Sugarland. Seven people were killed and about 60 were injured.
Stephanie McFarland, a spokeswoman for the fair commission, said the cables stolen were audio, visual and electrical cables.
McFarland said engineers from Thornton Tomasetti, which reviewed the stage structure after the collapse, would inventory the debris next week but that an initial state police review found that all of the cables connected to the Jersey barriers cited as a main factor in the collapse remained on site.
Kenneth J. Allen, a Valparaiso attorney for some of the collapse victims, called the theft troubling because the wreckage is evidence in lawsuits filed over the collapse.
"Certainly it's evidence that's related to this catastrophe and in that regard given the gravity of the harm that was done it's very important," he said.
Allen last year sought and obtained a court order from a LaPorte County judge to protect the wreckage for investigations into the collapse and lawsuits filed in the case. Crews moved the wreckage from the fairgrounds to the warehouse months after last year's accident.