Wednesday, April 17, 2013
A reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for committing the federal crime of vandalizing the Georgetown Lighthouse last week.
According to David Browne with the U.S. Coast Guard, several structures on North Island, including the lighthouse, were broken into. The crimes were discovered by the Department of Natural Resources April 9.
The next day the Coast Guard investigated and saw two locks had been cut off the lower door of the lighthouse and another had been cut off the hatch to the lantern room, where the spotlight is located.
The lighting equipment was damaged to the point that the light is inoperable. The power cables were pulled out and some parts were burned.
Browne said it’s likely the person received a shock which may be why the power cords were tampered with and what caused the equipment to melt.
The glazing lens and five lightbulbs were stolen. Browne said without the lens, the light shines straight up and not over the water. Several piles of beer cans were found inside the lighthouse.
Browne said because the lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the lighting equipment is owned and maintained by the Coast Guard, the vandalism and theft is a federal crime.
He said the penalty for such vandalism is a maximum of up to 20 years of imprisonment and as much as $2,500 fine per day for each violation.
An investigator from Charleston has been looking into the case, Browne said.
The lighthouse was built in 1811 and is a popular attraction for boaters.
Anyone with information about the vandalism and theft should call the Sheriff’s Office at 546-5102.
By Scott Harper