Museum officials disagree over security issues that led to pistol theft

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Disconnected security cameras: that’s what sources tell ABC 27 News led to the burglary at the National Civil War Museum nearly two weeks ago.

Now, museum officials are responding, saying they did have some problems with that security system, but disagree about what they were.

“We’ve asked the security firm to do a complete review of the system to determine what may have been malfunctioning,” said Burt Snyder, chairman of the museum’s board of directors.

Snyder said there were issues on Feb. 14 when thieves made off with an antique rifle and a city-owned set of Civil War pistols, potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Sources told ABC 27 that cameras had been disconnected, so nothing triggered the alarm.

Friday, Snyder said the security system did, in fact, recognize the break-in, but a malfunction prevented it from notifying anyone.

“The report wasn’t going as designed to the central station to alert that there was an issue at the museum,” he said.

Some of the cameras were working, Snyder went on, but their video was not stored anywhere. He said he’s not sure why that might have been the case.

Snyder didn’t know how many cameras the museum has, how many were affected, or where they’re located, but there are cameras installed in the now-empty exhibit hall where the guns were on display.

“There’s no evidence whatsoever that the system was either purposefully disconnected or turned off,” he said.

Police and the security company are still investigating.

“That’s years’ worth of data that are being reviewed,” Snyder said, “and I don’t know how long that will take.”

He hopes the final report from the security firm will shed more light on what went wrong and how to fix it.

A week ago, the city solicitor wrote a letter to the museum’s CEO citing “security deficiencies” at the property brought to light by the burglary and urging the museum to take corrective measures.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse, an outspoken opponent of the Civil War museum, was not available for comment on Friday.

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