Man charged with stealing copper, damaging Manchester church

Ryan Cottrill (Photo provided by the Manchester Police Dept.)

MANCHESTER, Conn. (WTNH) — Saint Mary’s Church in Manchester was built back in the 1800’s. It has survived hurricanes and blizzards, but this past winter it came under attack by a thief.

Ryan Cottrill, 30, is charged with more than a half a dozen crimes for stealing the copper from the church’s roof and drain pipes. The thefts happened on three occasions, including the Sunday after Christmas.

The church was full of people when water started dripping from the ceiling, then suddenly gushed down onto the alter. They had to get towels and rags and try to absorb it. Captain Chris Davis of the Manchester Police Department says the damage was substantial.

“Unfortunately the church was out the money to fix and repair it, and it was about $21,000,” said Capt. Davis. “He is not getting anywhere near what it is going to cost the church. In one transaction he only got about $90.”

Detectives were able to track Cottrill down through a scrap metal yard. Since the church is out more than $21,000 in damage to the exterior roof and interior ceiling, many of his crimes are felonies. Other churches in the area have donated money to St. Mary’s for a new roof.

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