Police: Copper theft attempt damages Palmetto school site

PALMETTO — Police say a Palmetto man badly damaged electrical wiring on a new school under construction in search of copper, according to a Palmetto Police Department report.

Officers say Robert James Heaton, 28, broke into a construction site next to where the new Palmetto Elementary School is being built, in the 1500 block of Tenth Street West, and stripped a transformer box on the site of copper.

Heaton then hot-wired a forklift and plowed through a fence around the school construction site, the police report stated. He then broke into the school’s main electrical room and tried to remove more copper, according to police.

Police arrested Heaton on charges of burglary and grand theft. He was being held in the Manatee County jail on $26,000 bond.