A burglar may have gotten more than he bargained for when he entered a building that was under renovation, intent on stealing tools left behind by the contractors doing the renovation work. What the bandit didn’t realize, however, was that the house on James Street in Syracuse, NY was filled with airborne asbestos.
According to an article in the Syracuse Post-Standard, the criminal – whose name was not released – gained access to the building by knocking a 3 foot by 3 foot hole in a brick wall. A police report stated that he most likely didn’t observe the warning signs that were placed around the structure noting that asbestos removal was taking place inside. The doors and windows were all boarded up with plywood.
Bill McHale, foreman for Conifer-LeChase Construction of Syracuse, NY, the company performing the asbestos abatement, told the media that there are safe areas and containment areas within the building, and it was evident that the robber had entered into a containment area after breaking into the house through the wall. McHale told police that the containment area is “extremely dangerous” and full of asbestos dust, and that the burglar had indeed put his health at risk by entering that part of the building.
Though the burglar escaped with a Bosch electric jackhammer, a Stihl gas-powered saw, two DeWalt reciprocating saws, ladders and scrap wire and copper, he may have also inhaled dangerous, sharp asbestos fibers, which can become imbedded in the lungs and cause mesothelioma cancer. Many people develop this cancer after years of exposure to the toxic mineral in the workplace, such as in factories and shipyards, but doctors and researchers have determined that even the smallest amount of asbestos exposure can lead to the development of cancerous tumors.