“All may rest assured that the clock itself was not damaged in any way during the operation, and the hands are now safely en route to Vatican City to receive the blessing of Pope Benedict XVI,” reads an e-mail reportedly sent to the Voice by individuals identified as “Reaper, Goliath and Juliet.”

Where are the hands? Perhaps en route to Rome. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

In the e-mail, the senders claim that the operation took 15 hours. On Sunday afternoon, the e-mailers say they entered a restricted area of Healy Hall, Georgetown’s administration building and most iconic structure. Getting there, they wrote, required “overcoming a series of countermeasures and obstacles.” Early Monday morning, the e-mailers claim they extinguished the lights, removed the hands, exited the building and hide the hands in a secure location.

The e-mail ends with a post-script: “The view from the top is truly phenomenal.”

The last time students successfully removed the hands was in September 2005. I spoke with that team — Wyatt Gjullin and Drew Hamblen — on Tuesday. For their heist, the duo climbed construction scaffolding and entered Healy through an open window.

They got caught weeks later in the process of returning the hands. Both men say they did not damage the clock or the hands in any way, although university officials say they had to spend thousands of dollars on repair work soon after the removal.

Students gather outside Healy Hall on Tuesday. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

“I understand their interest in keeping people safe,” said Hamblen, now 27. “But it’s a shame that they keep these cool places under lock and key.”

To read the full e-mail and see the photo of the alleged hands, check out Vox Populi’s post, “Alleged Healy clock thieves send photo of hands to Georgetown community, play with press because they can.” And you can read my full story about the missing hands in today’s paper, “Former pranksters urge Georgetown officials to ‘embrace the tradition.

For more higher education news, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter. And here are some other pieces I have written about Georgetown:

Georgetown University’s Healy Hall clock tower is missing its hands

Sandra Fluke, Georgetown students continue fight for contraception coverage (April 2012)

Catholic colleges and unexpected rules (March 2012)

Blogging neighbor and partying Georgetown students clash (May 2010)