Battery heist at NAPA dealer

Middleburgh NAPA auto parts dealer Dave Symons hoped painting about 1,500 pounds of used battery cor

Middleburgh NAPA auto parts dealer Dave Symons hoped painting about 1,500 pounds of used battery cores orange might deter theft.

It didn’t work.

About 50 batteries, said to be worth about $900 from suppliers, were stolen Wednesday night or Thursday, Symons said Friday.

He said he’s alerted recycling sites at the Port of Albany and in Oneonta to be on the lookout for the orange batteries.

The shop on state Route 145 was one of more than a dozen businesses hit in a string of burglaries along main roads in Schoharie, Middleburgh and Cobleskill over the past week or more.

Although police have cited no direct evidence, the thefts seem to mirror a similar batch of break-ins in the village of Schoharie in early July last year, as well as other cash burglaries state and local police investigated last winter and this spring in the Cobleskill area, as well as Delaware, Otsego and Herkimer counties.

“This has been going on for 21⁄2 years,” Symons said. He said an affiliated NAPA store in Stamford lost about $1,000 in a burglary June 14.

State police said Friday that no similar spree outside Schoharie County was reported recently.

In most cases, the thief or thieves broke through door locks and took whatever cash was found in desks, Sheriff John Bates Jr. said Friday.

When staff at Gobbler’s Knob Family Fun Park in East Cobleskill opened up Thursday morning, they discovered a jimmied door, a broken window and a safe missing, said Georgia Van Dyke, co-partner in the miniature golf course and driving range on Route 145 near Interstate 88.

About $1,000 in cash from receipts and arcade-type machines was in the approximately 2-foot-square safe bolted to a shelf, Van Dyke said.

Two game machines were also broken and coins apparently taken from them.

She said the burglars even took a large, wheeled stainless steel cart used to collect golf balls from the driving range.

Van Dyke speculated that they might have used the $200 cart to help them carry other loot.

“We closed up Wednesday night at five after nine … and when one of my handymen came in at 8 a.m., everything was pried open,” Van Dyke said.

About $1,500 in blank gift certificates were also missing, she said.

Those will have to be voided and new ones printed to avoid someone trying to cash in on them, she said. A bunch of missing keys and locks are also being changed.

The cash and certificates, classified as “securities,” were not covered by insurance, she said.

To avoid a recurrence, Van Dyke said a security alarm system is being installed at a cost of about $1,500, in addition to changing and reinforcing the locks.

That’s among the advice Sheriff Bates offered to local business operators, even as deputies and state and local police keep looking for leads and stepping up patrols.

“It’s expensive … but people should certainly secure their businesses,” Bates said Friday. “If they do have to leave money in there, it should be minimal.”

The Clover Patch day care site along Route 30 near Middleburgh was also broken into the same night as Gobbler’s Knob, according to Bates, but nothing initially appeared to have been stolen.

Deputies are also investigating about $50 in cash reported missing Thursday morning from The Daily Gazette office along Route 7 in the town of Cobleskill, but no initial evidence of forced entry was indicated, according to District Manager Tammy Carey.

According to Schoharie Village Police Chief Harold Orelup, a total of about $750 was taken from 10 businesses or offices in the Main Street area during the night or early morning of June 19 or June 20.

That compares to about $4,000 taken the night of July 17-18, 2007.

Since several of the same Schoharie locations were hit both years, it appears that owners were leaving less money around, Orelup said Friday.

Last week’s burglaries in the village included an antique store, fuel company offices, and an ice cream shop, as well as offices for a lawyer, chiropractor, and real estate agents.

“We had the state police out to do technical crime scene [investigation],” Orelup said, and the sheriff’s office also assisted.

“So far we don’t have anything,” Orelup said Friday.

Categories: Schenectady County

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