A string of small-time thefts in Broadalbin may prompt village residents to stop being so relaxed and trusting.
“It’s pretty logical. Just lock your cars. Lock your doors,” said Lt. William Ferry of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department.
He said a car parked along Maple Street in the village was opened up and its contents rifled through late Saturday night.
“We think someone was looking for valuables, loose change or possibly the keys,” he said.
It’s a small village and he said he also heard of several similar cases the same night, but most were not reported.
“This sort of thing has been going on for years,” he said. “Kids will walk the streets, looking for iPods or GPSs in open cars.”
It’s not usually a big deal, but he said things escalated Saturday night.
“This time they took a car,” he said.
Later the same night the car was ransacked on Maple Street, a car was stolen from its owner’s driveway on First Avenue, sometime between 3 and 6 a.m. Sunday.
“The keys were inside, and it was unlocked,” Ferry said.
Even with the crime escalating from petty larceny to grand theft auto, law enforcement officials didn’t seem too concerned.
“It looked like someone just needed a ride,” he said.
A few hours after it was reported stolen, police found the vehicle abandoned in Amsterdam, unharmed. No windows were broken and nothing was taken out of the car.
Ferry’s theory is some local kids needed to get to the city and didn’t have a car of their own.
There are no leads at this point, so the case hasn’t come across the desk of Village Justice Joseph Gilston.
From a distance though, he said village kids likely weren’t responsible.
“I’ve only lived here 16 years,” he said, “but I’d describe it as your typical Adirondack village.”
He paused, searching for an example.
“I’ve lived in the same house all this time,” he said, “and people still refer to it as the previous owner’s place.”
Since everybody knows everybody, people often don’t bother to lock their car and house doors.
“I’m originally from Amsterdam,” he said, “so I lock my doors.”
The problem with that trusting local atmosphere, he pointed out, is that people from out of town — what he called mobile criminals from Amsterdam and Schenectady — view small villages as easy pickings.
“We have a part-time police force,” he said, “but we don’t have 24-hour coverage like in the large cities. They know that.”
Following the thefts, village Trustee and Police Commissioner Theodore Bochenek released a statement asking village residents to lock their vehicles and homes and report anything “that doesn’t look right” to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office at 736-2100.