Thieves target museum, stealing wiring and putting artifacts in danger

HENRY COUNTY, Ind. – Vandals hit a museum and put thousands of priceless pieces in danger of being destroyed.

Over Mother’s Day weekend, an employee with the Henry County Historical Museum discovered the air conditioning unit was gutted.  All the wiring from inside the air conditioner was gone.

“I was just surprised and disappointed to see that someone would vandalize a museum,” Tim Rainesalo, Henry County Historical Museum Executive Director.

The air conditioning unit serves the annex building of the museum which holds nearly 10,000 artifacts, some dating back to the 1800’s. Preservation of all the artifacts depends on temperature.

“If it gets too hot you can get mold growing on some of the books it will eventually attract insects who will eat and damage the artifacts,” explains Rainesalo.

“We are the oldest continually operating historical museum in all of Indiana,” explains Rainesalo.

Rainesalo tells FOX 59 the evidence left over shows the thieves came prepared with power tools.

“They definitely knew what they were doing. I hate to use this term, but they were professionals. They had obviously probably done this before,” explains Rainesalo.

The thieves thought they stole copper wiring but the museum may have pulled a fast one of them.  This isn’t the first time vandals have hit the Henry County Historical Museum, so this time their air conditioning unit didn’t have pure copper wiring.

“They stole something that’s worth $15 at most and cost us over $2,100,” explains Rainesalo.

A new air conditioning unit was installed in time so the damage didn’t make it inside the museum.  No pictures, papers or pieces were ruined.  Stories were all saved so they can continue to be told for years to come.

“Oh these are priceless, absolutely priceless. I couldn’t begin to tell you what it would mean to lose some of this stuff,” explains Rainesalo.

The museum staff is considering adding security cameras to prevent a future theft.