December 19, 2012 - Seymour Lake Township Park was the target of a "real steal" after thieves took an estimated $6,000 to $10,000 worth of steel from the park property sometime over the weekend of Dec. 7.
"We had two big steel racks out there. We had angle iron, sign posts, fence pipe, and rod, all kinds of metal, that's what we use to fabricate stuff, fix stuff, whatever," said Jeff Kinasz, parks superintendent. "I had to take (what was left) to a different place so they didn't finish cleaning us out."
Kinasz said they kept the steel in a location off to the side of their maintenance yard and they didn't even know it happened until they were doing some work over in that area and noticed a tow strap hooked to a big cable.
"I asked one of my guys if they were trying to move the cable and they said 'no I thought you were', so these guys tried to drag about 500 pounds worth of cable out with a tow strap," he said. "I don't know if someone scared them off or what, but they left the tow strap, that was pretty much it and they were gone."
Kinasz said he filed a police report with the Oakland County Sheriff's Department and told them the items stolen would be pretty noticeable at a scrap yard.
"They take your name, they thumb print you, they go through a whole deal at scrap yards now," he said. "You can't just drop stuff off and get paid for it anymore, they know who brings what and what they bring."
Kinasz said it's discouraging because they can't replace the steel that was stolen due to cost.
"What I had there we accumulated from different areas and different stuff we do and now it's gone," he said. "I literally cannot replace what they took. I don't have the money to do it, so now we go without and that's sad because it affects the bottom line of what we do in the parks."
It's not the first time they've been stolen from either, added Kinasz, who recalled when someone drove through their fence hooked onto their wood chipper and drove through the fence with the wood chipper.
"Fences don't stop them," he said. "If they want something they just come get it."
However, Kinasz said they did put up a new wooden fence near the area where the steel use to be located to discourage people from just driving onto the property. The police also do a regular drive through the park as well. As far as further security measures, Kinasz said it would be impossible to do security cameras because they would cost too much.
"We've got 500 acres of parks we get vandalism and theft at all the different parks. We've got so many different areas, we'd have to have a camera on every area in the park," he said. "Do you eat the loss or spend $20,000 to $30,000 on cameras and systems and tapes you (have) to keep switching? I don't know what to do."
The park was not the only place to be hit by steel thieve. On Dec. 8, a manager at a business off Hummer Lake Road caught two thieves leaning in a scrap metal bin.
Det. Jason Louwaert of the Oxford Township Substation said there is a possibility the two cases could be connected, but there are a lot of people out taking steel right now.
"I didn't see anything that tied the two cases together, but we haven't ruled it out either," he said.
Louwaert said it would be better if people can store things inside because having things in non-secure locations always makes it easier for people to steal.
"Some people are out there taking stuff if it appears like it's abandoned," he said. "They might think it's OK to take it, even though that's not the case, so whatever people can do to make things harder for others to steal from them, that's obviously going to help."
Anyone with any knowledge of these incidents or who witnesses anything suspicious at the park is asked to please immediately call the sheriff's department at either 248-858-4950 or 248-969-3077.
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.