Police crime tips draw crowd

Public edgy after home invasions, burglaries

CHATHAM CENTER–It was standing room only at the Tri-Village Firehouse, Saturday as state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and county District Attorney Paul Czajka addressed the concerns of residents about home invasions and burglaries in the area.

Over a 100 people sat in the fire house and listened in at the door as State Police Captain Scott Brown, the Troop K Zone One commander, offered tips on how make a home safer. He also talked about police presence in the area.

The alleged burglars involved in a home invasion on County Route 17 last month and a more recent one in Stuyvesant have all been arrested, he assured the crowd, but he said authorities are dealing with a “rash of burglaries” in the area, many in Kinderhook. Last year police investigated 99 burglaries in the county, he said.

“I have beefed up police presence in Northern Columbia County,” said Capt. Brown. But he stressed that while state troopers provide 24-hour-a-day coverage seven days a week, they can’t be everywhere at all times. He said people need to call 911 if they suspect something in the area.

Deputy Sheriff Wendy Guntert, who also attended the meeting, said that if someone calls 911 and can’t talk to the operator for any reason, rescuers can locate that person and will send police car. Don’t hang up, she told the crowd.

She said the police can also locate a caller through his or her cell phone, but that takes longer.

“We’ve worked so hard to get 911” in the county, said Deputy Guntert, “and it works.”

Both officers urged those attending not to attempt to pick who should respond in an emergency. “Do not go shopping for either agency when the crap hits the fan,” said Capt. Brown.

“Rest assured that Sheriff Harrison and [Capt.] Brown are working together,” said the district attorney.

As for the local break-ins, Tim Jackson, a trooper stationed in Kinderhook, said that two of the three homes broken into in the Chatham area were second homes. He told weekenders in the audience to “make the residence look like someone lives there,” with lights, and by parking a car in the driveway.

Residents at the meeting asked about the effectiveness of everything from alarms, to barking dogs to guns. Mr. Czajka said that state law prohibits the use of deadly force by a civilian if the person can retreat from the situation. He also said he’s heard law enforcement officers say, “The best weapon in your home, if you choose to get one, is a shotgun.”

Capt.Brown said that dogs and alarms that alerted neighbors were helpful.

Deputy Guntert said it was important to know the procedure your alarm company uses, and whether or not the company calls 911 one immediately.

She urged people to take an alarm seriously. She said in many of the cases of houses and cars being broken into in Kinderhook, doors were not locked.

Trooper Jackson said that if you do lock your doors you are bound to notice a break-in sooner than if you leave you door open and see no forced entry.

Deputy Guntert has helped facilitate several Neighborhood Watch programs in the county and said she would come back to work with this community but she added that she would need a group of residents to organize a watch effort.

There was a sign-up sheet at the meeting for people interested in being part of the watch.

To contact the call the Kinderhook State Police Barracks call 518-758-7092 (nonemergency). Capt. Brown also gave residents his office number, 518 851-2964, and encouraged them to call him with concerns.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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