On March 18, the “T” off of the north side of Tech Tower facing the A. French Building was stolen for the first time in more than a decade.
According to GTPD police report number 14030625, it was noticed by a facilities employee who reported it at 12:20 p.m. who stated that his boss had contacted him at about 11:45 a.m. and wanted to confirm whether or not the “T” was missing after seeing a picture posted on Reddit. The facilities employee had checked after this and confirmed that there was no one in facilities conducting maintenance on the “T” and that it was in fact missing.
GTPD officers reconvened on the fourth floor of the building at that time to look at the remaining letters more closely, finding miscellaneous debris on the stairs at the scene. The officers secured the scene at that time and waited for the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) to arrive as well.
All teams made contact on the fourth floor mechanical room where facilities employees observed the alarm system for the letters. At that time, the alarm system was deactivated, and the employee said that the last time he knew of anyone disabling the alarm and continuing up to the tower was weeks prior for maintenance purposes. However, the hatch that leads to the tower itself was locked and secured.
GTPD officers checked the interior of the actual tower as well with CID, where they did not observe any evidence indicating recent disturbance. The report states that cobwebs and dust were still present, the window where the “T” was missing from did not appear to be disturbed with any type of forced entry and the padlock to the window was not damaged and was properly secured.
CID continued to process the area around Tech Tower until they observed an area in the bushes on the north side of the building by the exit door to Highland Bakery which looked freshly disturbed. CID processed this scene as well, collecting multiple pieces of evidence which were not indicated more specifically in the report.
After climbing the roof of the building, officers observed two muddy foot prints on the initial landing as well as several pieces of broken yellow glass. The broken glass trail began at the landing and continued all the way up the fire escape ladder onto the other roof. Once at the top of the fire escape, officers could see clearly the area where the “T” was missing. On the roof leading towards the remaining letters were pieces of white rope which appeared to match a white rope that was still hanging from the area where the “T” had previously been.
The facilities employee stated that with installation, the approximate cost of the “T” would be $10,000. GTPD Officers and CID continued to canvas the area before reconvening at 4:00 p.m..
Officers viewed surveillance footage from the area in order to locate an individual and vehicle of interest in reference to the theft of the “T.” The police met with the identified student, whom he gave consent to search his vehicle.
The student stated that he understood how serious this matter was and wanted to hand over the “T”. He led them back to his house, where they retrieved the “T” and loaded it into the Officers’ truck to be transported back.
The student was subsequently placed under investigative detention and brought in for questioning by the CID, after which he was cited for “Theft by Taking” and “Criminal Damage to Property” and was released on a copy of the charges.
The next day, Officers met with Dean Stein and decided to delay charging the student pending an investigation by the Office of Student Integrity.
History of the “T”
The first “T” was stolen from Tech Tower by a group of students who wanted to present it to retiring President Dr. Edwin Harrison for guiding Tech peacefully through the turbulence of the 1960s and the desegregation of campus.
Since then, the tradition has, to the administration’s dismay, expanded and grown to taking T’s from all over campus as well as the 5 ft. T’s off of Tech Tower. The feat had not been accomplished in recent years as it had been officially prohibited by Institute President G. Wayne Clough in 1999 when a Tech visitor was accidentally killed while climbing the Alexander Memorial Coliseum.