College anniversary banners stolen

by Eileen Brady | 2/20/19 3:00am

Some members of the Dartmouth community have found a different, albeit illegal, way to celebrate Dartmouth’s 250th birthday. Since the 250th anniversary festivities began at the start of 2019, a number of commemorative “Dartmouth 250” banners have been stolen in Hanover and on Dartmouth’s campus. Three banners were stolen on Main Street between Jan. 17 and Jan. 19, two of which have since been returned, according to Hanover Police captain Mark Bodanza. At least one more banner was reported taken this last week from near Collis Center, Dartmouth Interim Safety and Security director Keysi Montas said.

On Feb. 4, the Hanover Police posted a photo of two suspected culprits in a Twitter and Facebook post that has since been removed. On Feb. 6, the department’s Twitter account announced that the two pictured individuals had been identified.

“Community Action is effective!” the post read. Bodanza said that community members with “personal knowledge” of the suspects had contacted the police department and were integral to getting the banners returned.

He added that the individuals are “part of the Dartmouth community,” but could not comment on whether charges would be filed.

Dhwani Kharel ’22 expressed concern about the incidents, especially if perpetrators were Dartmouth students.

“It’s really disheartening, depending on who did it, because if it was a Dartmouth student, then that probably kind of ruins the relationship between the town and Dartmouth, a relationship that’s already been strained in the past,” Kharel said. “I think it’s just really inconsiderate of Dartmouth students if it was a Dartmouth student who stole these posters.”

Bodanza said that the investigation was ongoing.

“Once we have the investigation completed, then evaluation for prosecution would be taken into consideration,” Bodanza said, adding that he currently had no information on specific charges filed.

Montas said that because the initial thefts were off campus, the Department of Safety and Security was not involved in the case until it was notified of the stolen banners by the Hanover Police Department.

“I think we must have gotten notification pretty shortly after they received the report,” Montas said. “We work together because if they are investigating and they have suspects [who may be Dartmouth students], they will share that information with us.”

For example, Montas noted that the police shared pictures of the suspects with Safety and Security.

Safety and Security later received an internal report that more banners had been stolen from within the College, Montas said. Bodanza said that Saftey and Security then reported this to the Hanover Police as theft from the College.

This second incident falls under Safety and Security’s jurisdiction.

“I believe they were stolen from Collis and that it happened probably within the last week,” Montas said, adding that they will continue to follow up on the case.

A student, a ’21 with experience in banner theft, however, maintained that the desire to steal a poster does not always come with negative intentions. He stole a 2017 homecoming banner during his freshman fall, and said that he was mainly trying to gain social recognition by taking banners off the lamp posts on which they hung, acquiring one for each friend with him that night.

“Honestly, I was around a lot of girls I found pretty attractive, so I figured that if I kind of stepped up my game and stole a poster I would look really cool to them,” he said.

The student added that if his motivation had been negative, he “probably would’ve burned” the poster. Instead, it says, it is hanging in his bedroom at home, his own piece of Dartmouth. He said he assumes those who stole the “Dartmouth 250” banners had similar intents to his own.