Winchester Police, VFW catch can thieves red-handed
WINCHESTER, N.H. -- Officers with the town's police department and a member of VFW Post 3968 recently nabbed two people stealing aluminum cans, meant to benefit local disabled veterans, in a sting operation Police Chief Gary A. Phillips hails as a perfect example of local law enforcement.
Zachary D. Furman, 21, of Washington Street in Keene, and Allyson Santaw, 24, of Benton Court in Keene, were busted trying to take the cans the local VFW plans to recycle for money after members of the VFW alerted the police to a series of recent thefts. Furman was cited with theft by unauthorized taking, criminal trespass and possession of drug paraphernalia while Santaw was cited for theft by unauthorized taking, possession of heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal trespass.
Both individuals were released on $3,000 personal recognizance bail and are scheduled to be arraigned in Cheshire Superior Court in Keene on Wednesday, Nov. 6.
Phillips told the Reformer members of the local VFW chapter stopped by the police department last week and said two people, wearing hoods and masks, had been stealing aluminum cans from the building after large events. There were six reported thefts between Sunday, Sept. 1, and the time of the arrests.
He said the annual pickle festival in downtown Winchester was held Saturday, Sept. 28, so he had Officer Brandon Nicholopoulos and retired Westminster Police Chief James Harrison (also a member of the VFW) wait inside the building during the night to catch any would-be criminals. Phillips said Harrison and Nicholopoulos, stationed directly over a stairwell above the bags of cans while Officer Kevin Clark waited nearby in a cruiser, caught Furman and Santaw in the act at roughly 5 a.m. Clark assisted in the arrest.
Harrison, a seven-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, said he took it personally when he learned people were stealing aluminum cans meant to help local veterans.
"It kind of makes you mad that they would stoop to taking those," he said, adding that the cans were in large bags within a fenced-in area.
A member of the VFW since 1977 and a former chief of 20 years, Harrison told the Reformer the local veterans chapter works very closely with law enforcement.
"(Nicholopoulos and Clark) were very professional in their actions and it went really smooth," he said. "We've always had a good relationship with the police department and other services in town."
When asked if he thought the successful sting operation would put a stop to the thefts, Harrison replied, "If it doesn't, we'll go after them again."
Phillips said the thieves weren't stealing a large amount of money and the sting operation was more a matter of principle.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.
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