April 26, 2006
Crackdown On Village Criminals
Light might soon be shed on a mystery surrounding a burglary in Greenport with the help of some downright angelic intervention.
According to Southold Town Police Captain Martin Flatley, although no suspects have been apprehended following a recent burglary in the village, arrests are pending. "We've made significant progress due to reward money offered by the Guardian Angels."
Recently, Greenport Mayor David Kapell reported at a village work session that the Guardian Angels were prepared to take a stand against a rash of vandalism in the village: "The Guardian Angels have decided to make vandalism its top priority." Efforts, he said, would include Guardian Angel patrols in the affected areas. And, because the Guardian Angels have "some extra money in the till," as a result of fundraising efforts and frugality, they decided to offer a $250 reward for information leading to the arrest of suspects.
Only days after the announcement, the STPD received word of more burglary and criminal mischief in the village. A report filed on April 17 by village recreation director Linda Ortiz stated that an unknown person entered the Mary Smith Recreation Center sometime between April 12 and April 17 and stole items including a flat screen monitor, a candy vending machine, and $75 in cash.
There were no signs of forced entry; according to the police report, the episode was "believed to be linked to an incident that involved the stealing of a set of keys to all village building locks."
According to Flatley, there had been a prior incident two weeks ago when some village-owned vehicles were broken into by the light plant on Moore's Lane. "Someone lost a set of keys to various village-owned properties," he said.
Since that time, assured Kapell, "all locks related to the theft of keys have been replaced."
Soon after the burglary was reported, Flatley said "significant progress had been made" due to reward money incentive.
"The Guardian Angels are very pleased that the rewards we are offering have helped the Southold Town Police break the recreation center burglary case," said Kapell. "We will continue to offer such rewards for information leading to the arrest of individuals committing crimes against the community."
Flatley said he is not certain whether the culprits in the burglary were the same as those involved in a rash of village vandalism.
According to Kapell, there has been "a rather serious outbreak of vandalism," particularly at the village's recreational facilities.
Kapell has said the vandalism appears to be the work of a group of local youths and has affected Mitchell Park and Marina, the skate park, and most recently, a water department building on Moore's Lane where a contractor's backhoe was also damaged.
The vandalism has taken the form of graffiti, destruction of utility pedestals on the new docks, damage to a bathroom, and breaking of glass on the contractor's vehicle.
Kapell said he'd met with Flatley to discuss the problem, as well as ways to address the issue in the future.
Even prior to meeting with Kapell, Flatley said the STPD has been aware of the criminal mischief that has been taking place in Mitchell Park. The damage has been "youth-oriented," said Flatley, caused by approximately a dozen kids hanging out in the park on a regular basis, and includes decking destroyed by youth skateboarding on the edges: "A lot of it is just petty criminal mischief but it's still costly to the village."
For the last several weeks, police have addressed the issue by having officers on foot patrol in Mitchell Park during their shifts, as well as the town's K-9 unit patrolling the evenings during the evening hours.
As the weather gets warmer, the plan is for officers to embark upon bicycle patrols both in the village business district and Mitchell Park.
Targeting vandals, said Flatley, is a priority. "We are well aware of it and plan to keep addressing the issue."
Meanwhile, as the weather gets warmer, Guardian Angel patrols will increase, with support from veteran Guardian Angels sent to the village from New York by Guardian Angel founder Curtis Sliwa.
Kapell thanked the many village merchants who have supported the Guardian Angels with the financial backing for the reward program: "We intend to continue to work closely with the police to make further progress in improving conditions in Greenport."