Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Solar Equipment Stolen from Brooklyn Bridge Park

A one-of-a-kind solar charging station in Dumbo is out of juice after police say $100,000 worth of equipment was stolen. 24 solar panels and 30 storage batteries were painstakingly dismantled, then hauled away from a solar station used by the city to charge park maintenance vehicles. The equipment, which stored enough energy to power multiple homes, was reported missing from Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park on February 19. 

Thieves stole more than $100,000 in solar equipment donated to power vehicles and equipment in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The green-energy company Beautiful Earth Group had donated the pilfered equipment to the 85-acre waterfront park.

The charging station was set up atop decommissioned shipping containers on Pier1, near Furman Street in Dumbo. It was used to power the park’s large fleet of electric vehicles.

Officials had planned to use it to power private vehicles and park patrons' cell phones and laptops.

With a hotel and housing complex soon set to break ground there, park officials were planning to relocate the equipment to the other side of the park on Atlantic Avenue near Pier 6.

A portable classroom that had been donated for public environmental lessons was not stolen and will be moved to Pier 6.

Police believe the burglars used a truck and ladders to pull off the heist, since the equipment taken was very large and very heavy.

Police did not find damage usually associated with a break-in. The gate the equipment was stored behind was still locked and not damaged.

Beautiful Earth Group is waiting to hear back from park officials to see if the city was insured for the donated equipment that was stolen. Eventually, they hope to operate the charging station at the park again.

The charging station had been entirely powered by 24 photovoltaic panels on the roof of the shipping containers, which caught the sun’s rays throughout the day and stored them as electricity in battery packs for 24/7, on-demand use.

With production of 10-12 kilowatts, the station stored enough energy to power two or three small homes.

“This is one of the biggest thefts in a city park in a very long time, “said a park ranger.

"People have been given a false sense of security because the city said this park is safer now that there's housing inside with a large security force.”