Electrician helping restore Irma outages has thousands in equipment stolen

The tools were stolen from the electrician’s truck while it was parked at a hotel. Photo via WTSP

BRANDON, Fla. (WTSP) He came to Florida to help restore the massive power outages after Hurricane Irma, but now one electrician is leaving without much of his equipment after it was stolen from his locked truck.

David Schoenfeld, owner of Florida Lighting Maintenance, said his close friend and electrician Colm Corrigan is in town from Illinois to help the company restore power to area gas stations and businesses.

But several thousand dollars’ worth of equipment and materials were stolen from Corrigan’s locked truck while it was parked overnight Wednesday at the lot at Extended Stay America hotel in Brandon.

“When we’re working this hard to restore power and get our community back up and running, it’s just a kick in the face,” Schoenfeld said.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to 10News the theft had been reported and was under investigation. Schoenfeld said he was told the hotel did not have security cameras in the area.

Schoenfeld said his friend woke up to find what had happened. He says the thief or thieves cut through locks on the truck and took aluminum parts, copper wiring and tools like a chainsaw and a drill that’s worth about $700. He estimates about $15,000 worth of stuff was stolen.

“These are not little tools, it’s a big hit,” Schoenfeld said.

“To replace it is incredibly hard because they’re things he’s accrued over 20 years of his business, you can’t just go to Home Depot and buy and electrician toolkit.”

The equipment was not insured, something Schoenfeld said is a tough lesson that’s been learned for a new, small business like his.

In a statement to 10News, Corrigan called what happened an “act by an opportunist that will not stop me from putting a smile on face … and going out to help the wonderful people of Florida,” but emphasized he felt there are others who are “truly in need of help.”

“I can’t do everything I need to but I can still do something, stuff can be replaced, but there are folks here that are truly in need of help,” he said. “We’re not going to allow this setback to stop us from restoring services to those that need them.

While they are chalking up the entire ordeal as a total loss, what’s not lost on Schoenfeld or Corrigan is the overwhelming response their story has received.

Corrigan suggested if everyone gave a single dollar to hurricane relief, “we could really affect the lives of those that need it.”

“I’ll challenge all that have looked at this post to do just that,” he said.

Schoenfeld’s post about the situation on FLM’s Facebook page has been shared more than 8,000 times since Sept. 21.

A GoFundMe has raised more than $2,000 as of Saturday evening.

“I had no idea the community would come together like that, it chokes me up talking about it,” Schoenfeld said.

“It’s just amazing that people would reach out to us like that, that they care that much.”

Florida Lighting Maintenance is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

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