DNC: Nearly $500,000 of equipment was lost or stolen in Charlotte

DNC: Nearly $500,000 of equipment was lost or stolen in Charlotte

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by STEVE HARRISON / The Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on June 19, 2013 at 7:07 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 19 at 7:07 AM

To stage last year’s Democratic National Convention, the local host committee raised millions of dollars, much of it for computers, phones and other communication devices.

Now it appears a sizable amount of that equipment was lost, stolen – or perhaps kept by the staffers it had been assigned to.

The Democratic National Committee said it recently sent the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department a spreadsheet detailing $496,000 worth of missing equipment. CMPD created an incident report in May.

Among the missing items: Mac Book Pro laptops, iPads, iPod Nanos, computer printers, and Blackberrys.

“It’s commonplace for stuff to go missing,” said Joseph Sandler, a Washington, D.C., attorney handling media calls about the issue for the DNC. “This is very typical, even though we have an inventory system.”

Sandler said he thought the Charlotte losses were higher than usual due to planners prepping two sites for the three-day convention: Time Warner Cable Arena and Bank of America Stadium. President Barack Obama was supposed to deliver his acceptance speech at the football stadium, but the threat of thunderstorms moved the last night of the DNC back to the arena.

Sandler said some of the items may have been inadvertently kept by DNC staffers who had used the equipment for months before the convention. But he said he believes some of the equipment was stolen by people not involved with the convention.

“Some of it may have been stolen, but we don’t know exactly what happened,” he said.

The spreadsheet given to police lists $3.9 million in equipment, with most of it accounted for.

For example, the document says the DNC had 600 Blackberry Bold 990s. It shows 383 were returned and 217 are missing. Amount of the losses: $54,250.

A total of 841 pieces of equipment are missing, according to the DNC.

In its police report, CMPD lists most of the equipment, including the Blackberrys, as “lost” rather than “stolen.”

CMPD couldn’t be reached for comment.

Sandler said he does not think the Charlotte police will be able to find much of the equipment.

“Probably not,” he said. “Except to the extent if there were a significant number of things stolen and there is a lead they can pursue.”

The local host committee for the DNC was tasked with raising roughly $36 million to stage the convention, but the fundraising efforts fell short.

In May, Duke Energy announced that it would absorb the $10 million line of credit it gave to the host committee. Because the company could claim the loss as a business expense, its shareholders would only cover $6 million of the loan.

Dan Murrey, who chaired the host committee, said his employees returned most of the items they were using.

“On my team, we got almost every piece back,” he said. “But I don’t know if that was clear on the (Democratic National Convention Committee) side.”

He said that, in the past, technology companies had not asked for many items to be returned after conventions.

“But this time they did,” Murray said.

He said filing the police report with CMPD was a necessary step toward possibly filing an insurance claim for the items.

He said that on the last night of the convention, a number of pieces of equipment vanished, suggesting they were deliberately stolen.

“But it wasn’t like someone backed up a tractor-trailer and loaded up a bunch of stuff,” he said.

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