Putnam County Sheriff investigating
By Michael Turton
It isn’t only sidewalk reconstruction that is disrupting life for shopkeepers on Cold Spring’s Main Street these days. A rash of burglaries, or at least attempted break-ins, took place on the night of Monday, June 6, and the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 7. Three of the incidents took place on Main Street and one on the riverfront.
Go Go Pops, located at 64 Main St., was one of the victims. Co-owner Greg Miller told The Current that he checked the shop on Monday evening “and everything was fine” but that by the time his wife Lynn, a member of the village board, came to work in the morning, “everything was not fine.” The glass of the entrance door had been broken and cash stolen from the register.
It was not a great deal of money, Miller said, describing it as “the bank” for the startup of business the next morning. “The cost of the glass will be more than what they took,” he said. He was not impressed by the thieves modus operandi. “There’s no more stupid time to rob a shop in Cold Spring than on a Monday night,” he commented, adding that stores are no longer lucrative for would-be thieves since most transactions are done via credit and debit cards.
Miller said that Cold Spring Police responded quickly to his call. The investigation was then turned over to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.
Moo Moo’s Creamery at 32 West St. on Cold Spring’s riverfront was also burglarized. Owner Alexi Katsetos confirmed that his ice cream parlor was broken into and cash taken from the register. He declined to state an amount. Katsetos said that the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is examining the shop’s surveillance video. Capt. William J. McNamara confirmed that Moo Moo’s security video is being examined by investigators.
The burglar or burglars also attempted but were not unsuccessful breaking into Kizmet and Le Bouchon, both located on Main Street. Caryn Canova, owner of Kizmet, said that it was the first time she had experienced an attempted break-in during her 16 years on Main. The culprits broke a window at the back of her shop but failed to actually enter the store.
At Le Bouchon the break-in was also attempted via the rear of the building where a small windowpane on the door was broken. A restaurant employee said the incident had to have happened after 11 p.m. – the time that the manager closed the restaurant.
There have been a number of break-ins in the village in recent years and it seems some Main Street merchants are getting the message. Vierra told The Current that after the last time the restaurant was burglarized a safe was added in order to secure cash overnight. A deadbolt that requires a key was also added to the back door. That change in the locking system was what prevented entry into the restaurant on Monday night. Although by breaking a small window in the door the would-be thief or thieves were able to reach the deadbolt — they were not able to open it.
Lynn Miller said that when she arrived at Go Go Pops Tuesday morning and saw the broken door window she initially assumed that a rock had probably flown up as a result of Main Street project construction taking place out front. “But when I realized the door was open and saw the cash register … I knew we’d been robbed.”
Asked how she felt when she realized she was the latest victim of a burglary, she said, “It takes a while to sink in. It kind of felt like ‘OK, it’s our turn.’ Others have had the same misfortune and it tends to go round.” Miller said she was grateful the cash register wasn’t broken and that an iPad left in plain sight wasn’t stolen.
She expressed some empathy for the thief, saying that the person must have been desperate. “To break into a little shop like this? They must be really badly off in some way. Maybe they need some help.”
Miller even managed to laugh despite the unpleasant circumstance. “People say that bad things happen in threes — I’m hoping they don’t happen in fours,” explaining that her father had recently passed away, followed by a flood that had damaged their shop, and now a break-in. “I hope this is the last of it,” she said.
In today’s day and age every business should have a surveillance system. Not only do they help with employee theft but they sometimes catch an unsuspecting burglar and aid in his or her apprehension.
Cold Spring isn’t Cold Spring anymore. Lock your doors and hide the plants.
Historic perspective of these burglaries show they tend to happen in the summer season. They often coincide with articles in NYC-centric newspapers and magazines about Cold Spring being the “perfect day trip” out of Grand Central. Inevitably within these articles (which may be recycled) some local is quoted as saying something like: “It’s a quiet little town with such low crime that residents don’t even lock their doors.”
It continues to befuddle me that none of our police force is assigned “street beat,” but instead are disconnected from neighborhood watch policing because they only cruise around in cars. As such, Main Street will continue to be vulnerable.
Since over a quarter of the Village’s property taxes are spent on a local police force that by any logic is redundant (the county polices the whole county, and that includes areas with their own municipal departments), it would be valuable to figure out why some Cold Springers object to any discussion of trimming police services.
In part, I suspect, this is because many people remember a time when the police were from local families, men who did practice neighborhood policing and walked a beat. This memory is projected onto today’s force of 14 part-time officers who drive around in squad cars. Actually, make that one officer who drives around in his or her car, since the “force” is limited to one person at any given time, unless there is some special event like a parade.
Cold Spring has had break-ins before, and will have break-ins again, and nothing will ever make this village or any place completely safe. Crime is exceptionally low here, and will remain low as long as families and neighborhoods are strong, and citizens are alert.
My guess is that the local cops are so busy giving out tickets to merchants who have their signs and merchandise out on the sidewalks that they don’t have time to take care of the burglaries. Now we know what the mayor’s priorities are.
Any crime (such as a burglary) that requires an investigation, and any emergency that demands a response from more than one responder, will immediately draw on the resources of the county and the state. The county maintains a station in Nelsonville for this purpose, and shows that it is serious about continuing that station by recently extending its lease arrangement with Nelsonville.
A village policy of putting one part-time officer on duty 24/7, from a pool of 14 part-time employees, none of whom is a village resident, makes neighborhood policing all but impossible. This wildly inefficient arrangement promotes an illusion of Village control — an illusion taxpayers are finally starting to question.
Michael, in your first comment you said that some Cold Spring residents won’t even discuss cutting the unnecessary police department and in your last comment you say that taxpayers are starting to question the illusion of village control. These statements seem vaguely contradictory, however, maybe there is an element of truth. Can you explain?
The statements regarding Cold Spring residents’ views of the local police may seem contradictory, but are not. It is true that some residents are still unwilling to discuss the possibility of alternatives to the current arrangements with the local police. Several others, however, have privately expressed support for such a review, and would assist in its execution. An interesting aspect of that interest is that it comes from people of all political perspectives, right, center, and left, and from old-timers and newcomers.
These folks are persuaded by the stark facts — that over one in four of our Village property tax dollars (over $400,000!) goes to pay for local police services that are redundant. We pay for County police in our Putnam taxes, we pay for state police in our state taxes, and — unlike our neighbors in Nelsonville and Garrison — we pay again for a local police force that amounts to one officer in a cruiser (we pay for four or five cars, as well…). Any investigation, any response calling for more than one officer, relies on the County and the state. Calls to 911 go through a County dispatching office. I am eager to hear the case for keeping things as they are, but not one person has presented a single, reasonable argument, rooted in facts, that what we are doing is sensible.
Thanks for the info. I think the key words are “privately expressed” because many people are quite reluctant to come out publicly against the local cops. As I have seen firsthand, it is very easy for certain politicians to retaliate against private citizens using the PD. Maybe you get your first parking ticket or maybe an appearance ticket for your street sign. That is one of the big problems with a tiny local police force, besides the cost.
As far as the “execution” of a plan to get rid of the Village PD — I don’t know what method you think you’re going to use, but I will tell you from our experience in Put Valley that you’d better have a good attorney and be prepared to pay quite a bit of money. You’d also best be prepared for major political strife from both sides, especially union members. This is not something that should be undertaken lightly. If you are going to do it, know what the laws are, have all your facts straight and be ready for a long, expensive battle.
Given how clear-from-obstruction and pedestrian-friendly the sidewalks were this past weekend from the Depot all the way to High Street, I am going to go out on a limb and guess that it has less-than-nothing to do with any effort by any single politician to persecute any single store owner.
And as for the abolishing village police force, it’s going to take a village referendum or, at the very least, the election of a mayor who campaigns with that position front and center in order to move the needle. Do we call this Polixit?
Mr. Daly’s observations regarding what it would take, politically, to have a fair review of police services in the Village of Cold Spring are, as usual, acute. I think it is also vital to grasp the logic of the choice village taxpayers must make.
At bottom, this is about having a sound, high-quality and efficient infrastructure that provides abundant, clean water and manages sewage and storm water in an efficient and environmentally responsible way. This is the proper work of village government. Starving that government of funds that could be used to provide for necessary maintenance and improvements to that infrastructure, or frittering that money away on a redundant police force to feed an illusion of control, is a choice that every taxpayer should be willing to scrutinize.