Cannon thieves become gang that couldn’t shoot

Published 8:47 pm Friday, August 29, 2008


That exclamation—or something close—may have been the first reaction that Lawnes Point on the James developers had when they noticed their cannon missing from the neighborhood’s entrance.

Shoot! That also could have been the reaction of the people who stole it when they realized that it would not, well, shoot.

The cannon is a replica, after all, and was never intended to launch actual ordinance.

Nonetheless, its theft represents an $8,000 loss to its owners and something of a puzzle for the Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s kind of crazy,” 1st Sgt. Paul Phelps said Thursday. The cannon disappeared lock, stock and barrel, as it were, and no clues were left at the scene of the crime—no tire tracks, no fingerprints, nothing. It’s as if the thieves just lifted the heavy artillery and dropped it in the back of a pickup truck, he said.

Developers noticed the cannon was missing Aug. 20, a day after deputies received reports of vandalism in the neighborhood. Signs there were destroyed, shot up and even stolen, Phelps said.

“Maybe some kids were partying” in the empty subdivision, he added.

Police are hoping for help in solving the crime and ask that anyone with information about it call the county’s Crime Line at 357-5555. Callers can remain anonymous and can earn a reward for the arrest and conviction of a suspect or suspects.

The cannon should be easy to spot. It’s a little more than 4 feet high and six to eight feet long. When it was taken, it was on large wooden, spoked wheels. Unlike its Civil War counterparts, it’s perfectly safe—except, possibly, for the people who took it, who are now at risk of felony prosecutions and jail time.