Attempted Copper Theft; Three Arrested

The Andover Police Department has arrested three individuals in connection with damage and attempted theft of copper downspouts—exposed piping that delivers water from gutters to the ground—on Samuel Phillips Hall, Morse Hall and Pearson Hall. The individuals, two males and one female from Medford, MA, were taken into custody between 11 p.m. and midnight on Tuesday, and, according to Public Safety Manager Tom Conlon, were questioned by the Andover Police late Tuesday night. Conlon told The Phillipian that the thieves were motivated by the high price of copper. The suspects were officially arrested and charged at 2:16 a.m. on Wednesday. Copper thefts also occurred on campus Monday night and during Fall Term. No individuals were apprehended or arrested in connection with those incidents of theft and vandalism, but according to Lt. James Hashem of the Andover Police, the arrested individuals admitted during questioning that they were aware of Monday night’s incident and have some association with the theft. Around 10:40 p.m. Tuesday, Becky Bogdanovitch, Sustainability Coordinator and Instructor in Environmental Science, was walking home from dinner behind Sam Phil when she noticed a man on the fire escape of the building. “He said hello and was very friendly,” she said. While jiggling the downspout, the man “said he was hired by the school to do some work on the gutters and was just checking out the job,” Bogdanovitch said. Bogdanovitch said she thought the situation “didn’t seem so right,” and phoned Phillips Academy Public Safety to inform them of the encounter. The Andover Police received a call from PAPS at 10:52 p.m. According to Conlon and Hashem, a search took place on campus. Several officers were seen walking by the Paul Revere and Day Hall parking lots and around Sam Phil. In reference to Tuesday night’s incident, Pat Robb, an officer with the Andover Police Department, said, “They got every downspout on Sam Phil. They didn’t tear them all down – but there was damage done to all.” The individuals were apprehended, the two males near the construction site on Salem street, and placed in police cars in the Paul Revere Hall parking lot shortly after 11 p.m. A student who witnessed the arrests from her dorm said, “First we saw a bunch of police cars driving over to Sam Phil and looking at it with flashlights.” She said that officers handcuffed two males, later to be identified as Scott Conners, 24 years old, and Timothy Bennett, 23 years old, and then placed them in police cars. One woman, Heather Bourque, 23 years old, was already in police custody. The student said that Bourque had been waiting in a car with its motor running. The student said that she overheard officers asking Bourque what she had been doing. According to the student, Bourque was crying and yelled repeatedly, “The security guard saw us.” The individuals in the car were hooded, and according to the student, the two males, Conners and Bennett, “mouthed back at the cops.” After the individuals were arrested, the student said that from her window she saw the police search one car. They found sections of the downspout in the car’s trunk and removed and placed them beside the dark-colored Toyota sedan. The police proceeded to continue searching the vehicle. The car was towed after the suspects had left. Andover Police Detective Peter Reming, who arrived in an unmarked vehicle, photographed the building’s south entrance around 11:30 p.m. Detective Reming photographed what was believed to be debris from the damaged downspout. Other officers, from both the Andover Police and PAPS, inspected campus buildings to check for further damages throughout the night. Seven Andover Police Officers responded to the incident. According to a PAPS officer who declined to give his name, the thefts posed no safety threat to students. All three individuals were charged with malicious destruction of property over $250, larceny over $250 and possession of burglary tools. Conners and Bennett were charged with trespassing, and Bourque was charged with unlicensed driving of a motor vehicle. Cora Lewis contributed reporting to this article.