DRACUT -- Since 1922, they had funneled rainwater efficiently from the gutters lining the roof of the original Dracut Memorial Library away from the right side and front of the building facing busy Arlington Street.
But first thing Monday morning, town custodian Dave Lamoureux noticed all three 40-foot sections of copper down-spouts were gone.
"This next item I'll put in the category of 'brazen,'" Dracut Town Manager Dennis Piendak told selectmen at Tuesday night's meeting, before reporting to the board the theft of the copper drain pipes, occurring sometime over the weekend.
At the top of the report, Sgt. Gregg Byam classified the theft initially as "larceny over $250."
But if police investigators determine -- based on the estimated value of the stolen copper -- that the theft amounts to a felony, the town may be able to post a reward to aid in the possible apprehension of the person(s) who removed it, Piendak said.
With copper rising in value in recent years, many local police departments have reported an uptick in such thefts.
Should that be requested of the board, Selectman Robert Cox told Piendak he'd be strongly in favor of offering a reward to hasten the capture of those responsible.
According to the official Dracut Police Department report that Lamoureux filed on the incident, "on Monday at 7:30 a.m., he noticed someone had taken approximately 40 feet of copper gutters from the sides of the building," Byam wrote in the report. "All three pipes appear to have been taken this past weekend."
Dracut Library Director Randy Robertshaw said he believes the theft most likely occurred in the overnight hours of late Sunday night into early Monday morning, due to the fact no water had seeped into the basement from Saturday night's rain.
Based on past experience, Robertshaw said that had the drain pipes been removed prior to Saturday's rainfall, puddles would have formed against the building's foundation, with water likely infiltrating the building's lower level.
A check of the weekend's security camera footage, covering most of the Parker Memorial Library's perimeter, yielded no clues as to the identity of the thieves who struck the building's original wing facing Arlington Street, Robertshaw reported.
"We just didn't consider this one of our blind spots," said Robertshaw. "It was surprising. We just wouldn't expect problems on this side of the building, open to the public and facing traffic. It really is a disappointment."
Town Clerk Kathy Graham said Wednesday that she was in the process of obtaining several estimates to replace the missing drain pipes. The town will likely to have to pay the full $1,000 deductible under its theft-insurance policy by the time the claim is settled, Graham predicted.
"The copper gutters remain intact, and can continue be used, but still, it's a shame," said Robertshaw. "They were the original copper drain pipes that had been there since the building was put up in 1922. They were all the original, maintained us for 90 years. And now... It's really disappointing."
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