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Burglars rob 3 Townshend businesses, church

TOWNSHEND—Burglars broke into three Townshend businesses and a West Townshend Church in the early morning hours of Tuesday and Friday, Sept. 14 and 17.

Vermont State Police say one business was hit twice on separate days.

An unknown number of intruders, who state police say still remain at large, broke into Messenger Valley Pharmacy, 170 Grafton Rd.; Townshend Pizza, 2041 Route 30 and Mary Meyer’s Big Black Bear Shop, Route 30, early Tuesday, Sept 14.

State police say the intruders entered the pharmacy through a window they pried open, while the pizza parlor entry was through a window they broke in the back of the shop. They pushed out an air-conditioning unit from a window to enter the Big Black Bear Shop, state police said.

Nothing of substantial value was taken, the owners say.

Michael Meyer, owner of the Big Black Bear Shop, said the thieves took away an empty safe. 

John Papadopoulus, who owns Townshend Pizza with his wife, Mary, said the intruders took a safe that held petty cash.

Andrea Seaton, executive director of the Grace Cottage Foundation, which runs the pharmacy, said nothing was taken on the morning of Sept. 14.

However, Seaton said thieves using power tools broke into the pharmacy again early Friday morning, stealing some prescription medicines. Thieves also forced their way into Calvary Chapel on Route 30 in West Townshend, stealing two chain saws and two air rifles, as well as breaking into a file cabinet and scattering papers.

At least four state troopers from the Brattleboro barracks responded to the separate crime scenes Friday morning.

Trooper Eric Howley, who responded to the church break-in, said he observed a young man near the chapel who was carrying an air rifle and preparing to shoot at an unknown target. The 16-year-old was arrested and charged with possession of stolen property.

State police declined to say if the young man was a suspect in any of the burglaries.

Troopers said they have increased patrols in the Townshend area and they are continuing their investigations.

Seaton said security at the pharmacy has been tightened since the break-ins.

“We have added a security camera and lighting and installed loud sirens,” she said.

Papadopoulos, who said he’s been selling pizza in one way or another in the region for 24 years, took a call early at his Brattleboro home on the morning of Sept. 14 from building owner Spiro Liristis, who lives in Spofford, N.H.

“The owner calls me and he says the tenants who live upstairs say there’s no water,” Papadopoulus said. “Then he calls and tells me the back window is broken in.”

When Papadopoulos got to Townshend a little while later, he found that intruders had shut off all the breakers, which was why there was no water, and they had taken the safe. He then called police.

Meyer said he arrived at work about 7 a.m., saw that the air conditioner had been pushed in and figured out what was going on. He lives behind the shop and intends to keep a careful eye on things.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #68 (Wednesday, September 22, 2010).

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