E.C. Cottle's safe and $10,000 stolen Saturday
Thieves broke into the office of E.C. Cottle Inc., a family owned lumberyard and building materials supplier on Lambert's Cove Road in West Tisbury, sometime Saturday night and made off with a safe.
Wets Tisbury police are investigating the break-in and theft, said West Tisbury police chief Beth Toomey. Police are processing a number of items recovered at the scene.
"We believe more than one person was involved," said Chief Toomey, who declined to elaborate.
Police are asking for the public's cooperation in the investigation. Chief Toomey said police would like to speak with anyone who witnessed suspicious activity near the business or has information that could be helpful.
The crime came as a shock, said Janet Johnson, the daughter of business owner Edmund C. Cottle. "We have been working out of this location for more than 40 years," she said. "It's kind of unbelievable to know that someone would do this."
A customer walks into the office of Cottle's building supply yard off Lambert's Cove Road in West Tisbury. Photos by Mae Deary
Ms. Johnson said the built-in safe was approximately two feet square, weighed 400 to 500 pounds, and contained close to $10,000.
She suspects that the thieves, posing as customers during the day Saturday, opened a window latch in the office and returned later that night. They used tools found in the building to remove the safe from the wall. "I came in Sunday morning and found a big hole where the safe should be," she said.
The thieves left the tools used to remove the safe in a pile on the floor.
Commonly known simply as Cottle's, the business operates a yard in Edgartown on West Tisbury Road in addition to the Lambert's Cove location. Along with many other family members, Ms. Johnson lives behind the Lambert's Cove yard. "We are all just shocked," she said. "This is a family-owned lumberyard. Nothing like this has ever happened to us."
She describes her family and the business operation as very fair and down to earth. Local contractors agree.
John Early, a contractor and former long-time West Tisbury selectman, said he was very disappointed to hear that someone would steal from Mr. Cottle. "I've been doing business with him since 1972," said Mr. Early. "Ed is an old fashioned kind of guy who really goes the extra mile for his customers."
A cardboard box rests in the space occupied by the company safe before it was stolen on Saturday.
Mr. Early recounted Mr. Cottle driving "all over New England" to find a product to fill his order. "That's the kind of man Ed Cottle is, he's tremendously loyal to his customers," he said.
Mr. Early said that although the business has grown tremendously, Cottle's still retains a family atmosphere. "I'm really saddened to think that somebody would go into a community resource and do something like that," he said.
Edmund Cottle was off-Island and could not be reached for comment.
The criminal charges could include breaking and entering in the nighttime and larceny over $250, both felonies that carry the potential for significant jail time.
The Cottle family has offered a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and successful conviction of those responsible for the break-in and removal of the safe.
Ms. Johnson asked that anyone with information call 508-693-1385 and ask for Janet. The West Tisbury police can be reached at 508-693-0020.