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Three accused of stealing manhole covers

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By Alice Du Pont

The Quincy Police Department arrested three men Feb. 21 for the theft of 16 manhole covers. In May 2012 Public Works Director Willie Earl Banks said the city was experiencing a rash of thefts of the covers, costing the city thousands of dollars. The problem, Banks said: the thieves would have to be caught almost in action.

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That happened around 11 a.m., when an anonymous caller notified authorities three men were driving around town stealing manhole covers. The tip proved to be valuable, and the reported vehicle was located shortly after police issued a Be On The Lookout (BOLO) advisory. Contact was made with the woman who owns the vehicle, who told authorities her son, 20-year-old Robert Fowler Jr., had been driving the car.

Fowler reportedly admitted his involvement with the thefts and was placed under arrest. His mother then told police officers that two other men, who were with her son, were inside of her home. That’s when David Fancher, 27, was found hiding under a bed and 26-year-old Anthony Cannon was found hiding in the attic. All three gave the same home as 215 Earnest St. in Quincy.

Fowler and Fancher were both arrested on a charge of grand theft. Cannon was also arrested on a charge of grand theft but had three outstanding warrants for violation of probation in reference to original charges of burglary and criminal mischief.

“We knew there had to be two or three people because those covers weigh more than 100 pounds each. We were also sure they were taking them to salvage places for sale where they get about between 9 and 10 cents per pound,” Banks said.

Between January and May of 2012, the city had to replace 18 manhole covers.

“Manhole covers cost the city of Quincy approximately $100 to replace. The suspects had sold the manhole covers to a local metal scrap yard for $10. Even more important than the financial loss is the threat of injury to citizens who risk falling into an open manhole and being critically injured or killed,” wrote Assistant Chief Glenn Sapp in a recent press release.

Banks said most of the manhole covers, used to protect underground tunnels, are approximately 5 feet deep but some are as deep as 14 feet.