EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 29, 2013

Thieves take miter saw from former convent

By Yadira Betances

---- — LAWRENCE — Thieves broke into the former St. Patrick Convent in Lawrence, which is being converted into 10 condominiums by Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity, and stole a power miter saw worth $1,000.

“Here we are at the cusp of the holidays and someone saw fit to rob a nonprofit whose sole purpose is to provide for families that need safe and decent homes,” said Sharon Mason, director of development for Habitat for Humanity.

The theft happened around Nov. 22. The crew working on Nov. 22 finished at 5 p.m. and left the saw mounted on a table ready for a group coming to volunteer on Saturday, Nov. 23. When that group arrived the next morning, they found the front door wide open.

“That was the first clue then they saw that the saw was missing. They walked around the building to see how they got in,” Mason said.

Mason said the group discovered the thieves used a plank to climb onto the roof, which gave them access to a window that led the thieves to where the convent’s chapel used to be.

“We are surprised that someone would do this,” Mason said. “It is so disheartening.”

Lawrence Interim Police Chief James Fitzpatrick said they have no suspects in the case.

“Out of all the places to come in, it struck me that it was the former chapel. It’s really strange,” said Habitat Executive Director Randy Larson. “It took a lot of effort to get in through that way.”

Larson said the power tool, which has been repaired, has gotten a lot of use during the construction. It’s been used to cut wood for framing rooms and molding.

“It’s a setback but it’s not going to stop us from building even one day,” Mason said. “These families need homes and this is what we’re here to do.”