From laptops to snow plows, hundreds of items gone from city inventories


by David Alan

Posted on November 1, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 2:18 PM

NORFOLK – A $1,400 laptop computer, a $2,500 gas generator, $3,000 emergency radios, $300 digital cameras, manhole covers and backhoe buckets -- those are just some of the items that city employees across Hampton Roads have lost and can't be found.

They’re items you paid for with your tax dollars and will pay for again if the city replaces them.

In the past two years, Norfolk can’t account for $34,000 worth of items. With a budget of a billion dollars, things are going to be lost city, said spokeswoman Lori Crouch.

"The city has a huge budget and part of that budget, if you look at it, we expect in the normal course of business that things get lost, or stolen, or are missing."

Two snow plows, which cost almost $4,000, are missing.

”How could you lose two snow plows?” wonders Greg Ellick.

Norfolk also can’t find a $3,600 gas-powered jackhammer.

“I honestly do not know how you lose a gas-powered jackhammer. That’s stupid, unless you misplace it somewhere,” said Jennifer Kuchler.

City officials say they didn’t have a lock strong enough to keep thieves out of the garage.

Five steel construction plates are missing. They cost you $6,600.

The City of Virginia Beach gave us a partial list of items you paid for that can’t be found -- close to a hundred things missing just from the Police, Fire and EMS.

Four digital cameras disappeared, each cost $300. Tools and expensive medical equipment are gone. The police department lost four portable breath testers for $1,200. The most expensive items missing are three radios that cost $3,000 each. Eight police badges are also unaccounted for.

Councilman Bill DeSteph gave the city's list of missing items high marks.

”I would probably say "A minus," and the reason for that is you are going to lose stuff. When you are chasing bad guys, it’s the cost of doing business,” he said.

In Chesapeake, 11 chain saws have disappeared - each at a cost of $360.

Portsmouth can’t find 16 flashlights for which residents paid $115 apiece.

Suffolk lost a radar unit. Hampton account for three portable radios.

Each city tracks lost items differently. Norfolk tracks everything – even noting three 10-year pins are gone. Virginia Beach only requires reporting of items worth more than $1,000. Newport News told us it "does not have a centralized location where these records would be kept."

Some missing things are an inside job. A Norfolk city employee stole $2000 worth of gas.

Of $6,000 missing from the Scope box office, the city said half of that was taken in a robbery. Officials can’t account for the other half.

What else is missing? Watch David Alan's special report tonight on 13News.