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Copper Theft Leaves Warehouse Storing Documents Without Heat

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Another copper theft leaves a city warehouse without heat. The warehouse is the new place where Baltimore’s oldest documents are stored.

Suzanne Collins explains when it comes to old, hand-written records from the 1700s, the temperature and humidity really matter.

The book records payments made to union soldiers in Baltimore and details where they fought. It’s one of many historical documents at the new city archives which opened in September and is attracting many researchers.

“One individual was perusing a murder case to see if there were any certain reports relating to that,” said Robert Schoeberlein, assistant archivist.

But thieves put all those maps from the 1940s, records of colored schools and information on the Civil War at risk when they stole the copper pipes off the roof.

“The biggest problem with documents is having a big range of temperatures and humidity,” said Edward Papenfuse, Maryland State Archivist.

The warehouse owner immediately installed a rental heating system and Tuesday contractors were planning for a crane to put new heating and cooling on the roof. Police are trying to track the culprits.

“In fact, our pawn shop detectives are scouring the city looking for locations where they might have tried to redeem the items for currency,” said Detective Kevin Brown, Baltimore City Police.

Also in this warehouse is a police evidence storage area. City police say they will remove any evidence that is temperature sensitive to Baltimore City police headquarters to preserve it.

The state archivist says Baltimore’s history on paper will survive and it would have been much worse in summertime, if humidity seeped in.

The archivist says the documents may have been in more danger when they were stored for the last decade in the basement of a leaking building near Druid Hill Park.

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