Transient admits to breaking into, vandalizing medical clinic

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer September 08, 2012 07:45 am

 

A 31-year-old transient turned himself in to his parole officer and was subsequently arrested by Brookings Police Wednesday afternoon in connection with a break-in at the Curry Medical Center on Fifth Street the night before.

“He said he thought about running,” said Brookings Police Lt. Donny Dotson. “But he knew we were going to find him. He turned himself in.”

 

Nathaniel Patrick Shuman gained access to the building by allegedly breaking a window at the emergency room entrance. He caused significant damage while inside, and took medical supplies from within the building, Brookings Police Sgt. Terry Murray said.

He apparently broke into the facility in search of pain medication; police noted that narcotics are not kept at the medical center. Shuman allegedly pried open numerous cabinets, damaged computers and a medical cart and stole a wheelchair and over-the-counter medications. Other items were found later in a duffel bag.

“My first reaction was, ‘How stupid,’” said Moira Fossum, community relations for Curry Health Network. “There are no drugs – we have some ibuprofen, and aspirin. The myth that you can come in here and think there’s a full pharmacy. … We don’t have a pharmacy. There are no drugs.”

Police and medical officials continue to tally the damage as more is discovered, said Brookings Police Det. Tyler McCourt. 

A specialized heart monitor might be damaged, and a medical refrigerator was tipped over and its contents could be compromised, McCourt said.

Damage to the facility is estimated at between $10,000 and $15,000 – not including the $10,000 heart monitor – and could go higher, he said. Stolen items were valued at more than $1,000. Those figures don’t include cleaning costs or lost business.

“It was very unfortunate, but the team here reacted in a stellar manner,” Fossum said. “The Urgent Care people were all called in, housekeeping got it all cleaned up in record time, the staff has a phone tree and told everyone not to come in; everyone took care of everything.”

The medical center was closed for the day so police and Curry County Sheriff’s officers could collect evidence, but opened for business this morning.

Shuman faces charges of second-degree burglary, first-degree criminal mischief, first-degree trespassing and a parole violation.

“It was terrible what he did,” McCourt said. “But you have to give him some credit for turning himself in. At least he was being honest about it.”

The case has been referred to the Curry County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.