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Tolland Man Charged with Stealing Signs in Rhode Island

A 24-year-old Tolland man was one of two charged with boyish vandalism at a school in Rhode Island.

By Mark Schieldrop

A Tolland man and another Connecticut man were caught Sunday stealing signs from a school in Portsmouth, RI, according to police there.

Police gave this account (an accusation not proven in court) of the incident:

Police said Frederick Hoyt Wenhardt, 19, of Oakville and Kyle Louis Romitti, 24, of Tolland, were spotted by an alert area resident as they walked carrying several signs they had reportedly stolen from The Pennfield School around noon.

The resident confronted them and they dropped the signs and fled on foot. The resident brought the signs to the registration tent at the nearby Beast of the East tournament happening at the same time as the alleged thefts.

Armed with a description of the two suspects, police, including an officer working the Beast of the East detail, descended upon the area and knew the suspects were near the Gardner Seveny Sports Complex.

Police soon saw them walking on the polo field just west of the stables and a police report noted that “it is important to note there were no other people on the polo field.”

At first, the two men said they were looking for a car a friend had borrowed “even though they were on acres of land with no cars in sight,” the report stated.

Their initial denials soon began to dissolve as one, while police waited for more officers to arrive, asked “if we did take the signs are there criminal charges and what would they be?”

Meanwhile, police recovered the signs, which stated “trail closed due to mud season,” “warning electric fence” and “The Pennfield School Court,” which had damage on its lower section where it was bolted to the post.

Police also noted damage to a bulletin board across the street from the school, where one of the signs was mounted, as well as on a post near the entrance to the school where another sign was mounted.

In the end, both Wenhardt and Romitti said they did take the signs with one telling police it was a “stupid decision” and pledged to make restitution.

Both were charged with larceny and vandalism and were released with Second Division District Court summonses for a May 1 arraignment.

Editor's note: This article originally was published in slightly different form by Portsmouth Patch in Rhode Island.

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