Someone broke into an outbuilding at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course late Sunday night to commit a theft that probably offered very little return for the effort.
“Someone jimmied the lock on the back door and stole 25 batteries,” said golf pro Joe Merendo. “One of our members went to use his cart in the morning and it didn’t start.”
The city-owned outbuilding houses dozens of privately owned golf carts. As Merendo checked each cart, he found each was missing its battery, even his own two carts.
“I’ve been here since 1972, and no one has ever stolen a battery,” he said, adding that gas has been siphoned on occasion and the pro shop was broken into a few times over the years.
There’s a good reason batteries have been safe in their carts for so long: Merendo said batteries — which are regular-sized automobile batteries — cost between $60 and $120 each new but are worth a lot less on the used market.
“There’s replacement value, and then there’s core value,” he said, explaining that while he and the rest of the cart owners will have to shell out $60 or more for new batteries, the thief or thieves will have to sell their haul to a salvage yard for the price of their core elements.
According to Joe Paige of Predel & Co. salvage yard in Schenectady, each car battery is only worth about $8, bringing the potential pay-off to roughly $200.
“It isn’t much compared to the loss of time, money and aggravation of the people at the golf course,” he said.
Then there’s the matter of weight. Each battery weighs approximately 40 pounds. All together, a half-ton of batteries had to be disconnected, loaded and transported for the meager payoff.
Paige said batteries aren’t a common illicit item because of that heft and their relatively low worth compared with copper and brass.
“Copper is up to $3 a pound,” he said, “and it’s easier to steal from industrial sites.”
In fact, he’s seen enough stolen copper on a daily basis that his company sends a record of all scrap purchases to Schenectady police.
Amsterdam police did not return calls for comment on their investigation of possible charges Wednesday, but Merendo said whoever stole the batteries got away clean.
“We need cameras,” he said.