ST. JOHNSVILLE — Two men have been arrested and another man is wanted in connection with the early Sunday theft of a wooden cow cutout in St. Johnsville, Montgomery County Sheriff’s officials said.
The cutout, covered in a painting of St. Johnsville’s Kyser House, has since been returned to the Kyser House undamaged.
Arrested and charged with misdemeanors in the case were Jamie M. Lambert, 21, of W. Main Street, St. Johnsville, and Casey L. Battisti, 21, of Route 10, Johnstown. Lambert faces a misdemeanor conspiracy count, while Battisti faces misdemeanor resisting arrest, false statement and obstructing counts.
Wanted on petit larceny, resisting and obstructing charges in the case is Michael A. Vogel, 22, of Route 29, St. Johnsville, officials said.
The investigation that led to the stolen cow cutout began at about 4 a.m. Sunday on West Main Street as two sheriff’s deputies were on patrol, officials said.
The deputies witnessed three men running across the street while carrying a large item from the area of the Kyser House, located at 34 W. Main Street. Deputies pursued the men on foot to 35 W. Main St., where they recovered the cutout from a bedroom there in Apartment 1.
According to Montgomery County Sheriff Jeffery Smith, Battisti and Lambert initially, “lied to us about who the third party was.” Through an investigation involving interviews and evidence collection, deputies determined that Vogel was also involved in the theft, though they were subsequently unable to locate him.
Battisti and Lambert were taken into custody and charged.
The cow was created several years ago by Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Central School students as part of a project that saw wooden cows emblazoned with significant area locations placed throughout the village. It appears on Google StreetView images from the village as far back as 2016.
“I think it was a prank,” said Smith of the theft. “I think they thought it was funny, but we did not. This type of behavior, even if it is a prank, is not acceptable and won’t be tolerated.”
Recently, a group of St. Johnsville residents started a Neighborhood Watch, stemming from the village board’s budget-related decision to discontinue a nightly 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. patrol by the St. Johnsville Police Department.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police Department have since covered the overnight shift.
Smith, who spoke during the Neighborhood Watch’s organizational meeting at Soldiers and Sailors ball field recently, reiterated a piece of advice he provided then, imploring residents, “If anybody sees something, we encourage them to contact us.”