Another summer, another wave of vehicle break-ins and property thefts in Barclay Heights and Glasco neighborhoods, followed by the teen perpetrators being caught and charged. This happened again just recently, when three teens were apprehended on Aug. 7 after a call was made about suspicious activity. The suspects, all males aged 14–17, were charged with a range of crimes from burglary to conspiracy and obstructing governmental administration.
This cycle has taken its toll on residents of these communities, some of whom say they feel less safe in their homes and have even changed their behavior as a result. One resident, Amy Sullivan, who has lived in Barclay Heights for five years, has seen her car broken into twice, her tires slashed and has experienced, as she puts it, a number of “random acts of unkindness.” These experiences have caused her to be hyper-vigilant about locking her doors. Sullivan also rarely uses her front yard because of the lack of consideration she witnesses from people speeding through the neighborhood. She says that she sometimes wonders “if kids just go driveway to driveway every night looking for unlocked cars,” and has considered moving away, though she admits it would be nearly impossible to find a community untouched by such crimes.
Other residents feel that, in spite of the problem, Saugerties is still doing far better than many of our neighboring communities. Nikki Weisman, who has also lived in Barclay Heights for five years, has seen several of her neighbors victimized by these thefts but says she doesn’t feel the community is unsafe. She says that there are “a lot of good people here, and I focus on that.”
Nevertheless, Weisman takes precautions. She habitually locks her doors and teaches her children to do the same. She attributes this vigilance to having been a victim of burglary on multiple occasions when she lived in Staatsburg. She believes the rash of crimes perpetrated by local teens is due to a changing society, one in which the divide between “haves and have-nots” is wider than ever.
Lieutenant Stephen Filak of the Saugerties Police Department says that vigilance is the “positive takeaway” from these crimes. He stresses that these are crimes of opportunity, and that the best thing residents can do to protect themselves is to remove these opportunities by always locking car doors, taking valuables inside, and installing motion sensor lights which deter would-be thieves. He also implores residents to contact the police (246-9800) when they see any suspicious activity.