Schenectady Fire Department: Vandalism of firefighter, county sheriffs’ vehicles underscores need for fencing around lot

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SCHENECTADY – The recent arrest of a homeless woman who allegedly vandalized 14 parked vehicles that belong to members of the city Fire Department and Schenectady County Sheriff’s Department underscores the need for fencing, a Fire Department spokesman said.

Rachel Depp, 44, was arrested the morning of Aug. 6 after she allegedly broke and bent windshield wipers, smashed side mirrors and scratched the 14 vehicles in the Fire Department parking lot at 360 Veeder Ave., which abuts the county sheriff’s department.

According to Assistant Fire Chief Don Moreno, five of the vehicles belong to firefighters, and nine were driven by employees of the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Department.

“The damage was minor in the grand scheme of things,” Moreno said. “I don’t know what issue she’s dealing with that would drive her to do such a thing. But we’ve talked about getting fencing here to secure not only this station, but others, because we’ve had vandalism before.

“People here at Station 1 at headquarters, they use the lot as a cut through, which in itself, we don’t mind that,” Moreno said. “It’s a shortcut.

“But because we’ve had vehicles broken into and we’ve had damage done, we’re looking into putting up a fence to secure the area,” the assistant chief said. “It’s such a large footprint that it’s going to prove to be expensive to do that. We’re also looking at cameras and maybe better lighting.”

Sheriff Dominic D’Agostino and Undersheriff James Barrett didn’t return phone messages left last week.

A police spokesman said investigators used pole cameras to capture Depp’s actions, and they were also used to track her movements. She was awakened in Veterans Park.

Depp was charged with 14 felony counts of criminal mischief in the third degree. The estimated damage to each vehicle was in excess of $250, but less than $1,500, according to the statute concerning the charges.

She was released on an appearance ticket.

Police said they are investigator her motive.

Local police have also dealt with and reacted to vandalism in recent months.

In April, Schenectady Police Chief Eric Clifford had temporary fencing surround the entrance to police headquarters.

The fencing was placed after a Black Lives Matters protest ended with a broken glass panel on a door at the police station and profanities written in water-soluble chalk on the building. The fencing left only a narrow lane for the public to enter the lobby.

The Schenectady protest of about 20 people was in reaction to the death of a Black man, Daunte Wright, in Minnesota. Wright was shot by a police officer following a traffic stop on April 11, leading to protests against the police and police brutality throughout the nation. Authorities had the fencing removed on June 10.

Messages in chalk at the station read: “We won’t forget,” “Stop killing us,” “Blood is on your hands,” “Cops and klan are hand-in-hand.”

That incident resulted in misdemeanor charges of third-degree criminal tampering against two social justice activists, but those charges were adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, meaning the charges would be dismissed and their records sealed in December if the two didn’t get arrested during that timespan.

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