At least nine downspouts—vertical pipes located on the outside of buildings, which carry rainwater from rain gutters to ground level—went missing from Eliot and Lowell Houses last week. Each pipe is valued at roughly $500.
On the morning of Feb. 18, Eliot House Building Manager Francisco Medeiros noticed that roughly ten feet of the bottom half of a twenty foot downspout on O entryway was missing. He immediately reported it to Harvard University Police Department.
The next morning, during a weekly tour of the buildings’ exteriors, Lowell House Crew Chief Luis Colon noticed that ten downspouts were missing from several Lowell entryways, according to Lowell House Building Manager Robert Sammonds. Colon subsequently told Sammonds, who immediately informed HUPD.
While Sammonds said that there were ten downspouts stolen from Lowell House, HUPD Spokesman Steven G. Catalano said that only eight were reported missing.
Catalano said that the Eliot House theft likely took place between Feb. 3 and Feb. 17, and that the Lowell House theft likely took place between Feb. 11 and Feb. 15.
The reasons for the thefts remain unclear, but Catalano wrote in an e-mail that it was likely due to the value of the copper pipes.
"The theft of copper products is not an uncommon occurrence and has peaked within the last few years with the increase in recycle value of copper," he wrote. "We generally see one or two copper thefts on campus each year."
Sammonds also thought that the theft was probably related to the pipes’ market price.
"Someone must have thought they were worth something, but it wasn’t worth their effort," he said.
Both Medeiros and Sammonds said they thought it was unlikely that students had committed the crime.
"If it was just one missing, I would say it was just kids," Sammonds said. "But with ten missing, I thought differently."
Medeiros noted that it would be difficult to such hide large pipes. "I have to check all the student rooms," he joked.
—Staff writer Sofia E. Groopman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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