March 24, 2006 – Police and Department of Planning and Natural Resources officials have been getting tips, but they are no closer to retrieving a centuries-old cannon recently stolen from Fort Frederik.
"The community is helping," said Jamal Nielsen, DPNR media relations coordinator, on Thursday. "We are getting tips."
Police spokesman Sgt. Thomas Hannah said as of Friday there is no update on the whereabouts of the cannon. Hannah said he speculates the cannon was removed from its perch with the help of a heavy duty vehicle or a crane.
"It weighs over 1,500 pounds," Hannah said.
The cannon sat on a wooden mount about three feet above the public sidewalk on the northern end of the Frederiksted fort. The black, circa 1770 antique, protected by the Virgin Islands Antiquities Act, was accessible to pedestrians and vehicles, but was not visible from the public street.
Virgin Islands Historic Preservation Director Myron Jackson asked the community to be vigilant when it comes to Virgin Islands' historical treasures. "There are very few places that have the depository of historical resources the Virgin Islands have," Jackson said.
He added that other local artifacts have been stolen in the past.
Jackson said unknown persons have moved heavy equipment onto historical sites to remove items such as keystones and bricks.
Nielsen said residents have telephoned the agency with sightings of cannons in people's yards and other locations, but he speculated that the cannon might not be found locally. He said the "probability is very high" that the cannon would be sold on the antiquities black market for up to $12,500.
An anonymous telephone tip March 15 alerted DPNR of the missing cannon; however, the department did not make the information public until a week later.
"The investigation is still very active and ongoing," Nielsen said. "We are following up every lead."
Fort Frederik was constructed by the Danish government between 1752 and 1760 to protect the town from pirates. The trapezoidal design is typical of classic Danish military architecture of the period.
As the focal point of the town, the fort has served as a jail, police station, fire station and courthouse since the purchase of the Virgin Islands by the United States in 1917. The structure is registered as a National Historic Landmark.
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