• Police accuse four in giant chili heist
    By Gordon Dritschilo
    STAFF WRITER | September 07,2009
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    BENNINGTON — Police said they caught four people trying to get the giant pepper off Chili’s restaurant early Sunday morning.

    Police said the foursome ran an extension cord across Route 67 to power an electric drill they used to detach the logo sign from atop the building.

    Susan Michet, 22, and Asher Woodworth, 23, both of North Bennington, were cited for grand larceny along with Claire Davis of Lee, Mass., and Sophia Giordano of Williamstown, Mass., both 22, according to police.

    Sgt. Camillo Grande said two are college students, one is a recent graduate and another is “between work and school. He said he asked if the attempted theft was part of a scavenger hunt or other series of pranks police should watch out for and was told it was a spur of the moment act.

    “They really didn’t plan it,” he said Sunday. “One of their friends had an eye on the chili and they got together last night and decided they were going to get it for the friend.”

    Toward that end, police said the foursome assembled a hack saw and power drill they used to remove the bolts holding the chili to the roof. Grande said they planned to make their getaway with the sign, valued at $8,000, in an SUV.

    “I’m not sure how it was going to fit,” he said. “It’s a pretty large chili.”

    To power the drill, Grande said they connected 470 feet of extension cords that they ran from the Chili’s building, across all four lanes of the road and through the parking lot of Home Depot to a nearby outlet. While Route 67 is well-traveled, Grande said the cords did not seem to obstruct traffic.

    The alarm at the Chili’s activated at about 4:30 a.m., and police said they arrived to find one person on the roof, two hiding in the bushes and another running away. Police said they took all four into custody without incident.

    The foursome had succeeded in freeing the sign from its bolts when police arrived. The Bennington Rural Fire Department helped collect evidence on the roof.

    Grande said the last such incident he could think of was 15 years ago. He said a Ronald McDonald statue was stolen from outside the McDonald’s and only recently recovered.
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