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Timeline of the Caltech Cannon Hack

The following timeline was provided to Deborah Douglas, MIT Museum science and technology curator, by students familiar with the activities of “Howe & Ser,” the fictitious moving company that planned and carried out the Caltech cannon heist.

1. Timeline

- Initial idea came up in summer 2004 as a joke.

- Howe & Ser began in December 2005, when people realized that it might just be possible.

- Planning started in January 2006.

- The designing of the ring began in late February.

- 1,000 man-hours of ring machining took place over 9 days in the middle of March.

- Howe & Ser movers went to California over spring break to appropriate the cannon.

- Friday, March 24th: Left for Caltech

- Sunday, March 26th: Arrived and scouted out the area

- Monday, March 27th: Last minute construction and planning

- Tuesday, March 28th: The heist

- Wednesday, March 29th: Departed for home, 20th anniversary of Harvey Mudd stealing the cannon

- Thursday, March 30th: Caltech Security filed grand larceny report with the Pasadena Police for the missing cannon

- Friday, March 31st: Howe & Ser members returned to MIT with cannon

- Cannon appeared on campus in front of the Green building on the morning of April 6th, and the ring was put onto it.

- Cannon was retrieved by Fleming from campus on the morning of April 10th after the ring was removed; MIT students threw an impromptu barbeque for the occasion.

2. Stealing the Cannon

A six-person team from Howe & Ser loaded the cannon onto a truck in under 15 minutes shortly after 5 a.m. on Tuesday, March 28th. Shortly after departing, they were approached by Caltech Security. The “foreman” of the group presented them with forged documents explaining that the cannon was to be temporarily relocated to a parking lot while a more permanent display platform for the cannon was constructed. The security workers were convinced that the work orders were legitimate and proceeded to escort Howe & Ser, and the cannon, to the parking lot. Minutes later, the cannon was gone.

3. MIT Display

The cannon arrived on the MIT campus early on the morning of April 6th. Howe & Ser movers placed the cannon in its new location in front of the Green Building, pointed it at Caltech, put the ring on the cannon’s barrel, and installed a plaque commemorating the occasion.

The cannon remained in front of the Green Building for four days, during which many people visited and took pictures with the cannon, including the College Cannon Coeds, the MIT Campus Police, and many news agencies.

4. Caltech Reclaims Its Property

Caltech students from Fleming House arrived on MIT’s campus on April 8th and 9th and began planning the return of the cannon. Howe & Ser movers took notice of Fleming’s scouts early on the morning of April 10th and decided to throw a party for the students who came to retrieve the cannon.

At 7 a.m. on April 10th, around 30 Fleming students and alums manually moved the cannon to the street where a tow truck was waiting while MIT students looked on. The tow truck driver winched the cannon onto the back of the truck and secured it, and then left. Afterwards, the Caltech students and MIT students enjoyed a barbeque and music, and shared stories about the cannon’s journey across the country.

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