In a small town, a few petty crimes can feel like a wave

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

In a small town like Phoenicia, we tend to feel safe leaving our cars unlocked. Therefore, it was disturbing to read a Facebook post this summer from a woman whose cell phone went missing from her unlocked car on Main Street. After a series of such incidents occurred on November 19, the Shandaken police found some of the missing articles in the possession of 18-year-old Robert Rivera of Hurley and a 16-year-old male from Chichester.

The two were charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, both misdemeanors. Rivera was issued a ticket to appear in the Town of Shandaken Court at a later date. The 16-year-old, who may be eligible for Youthful Offender status, was arraigned and remanded to the Ulster County Jail to reappear in Shandaken Court as well.

Another pair of criminals have been running a scam in Shandaken, according to a notification sent from the town clerk’s office to residents who have subscribed to the town’s automated alert system. Two men in a white van have been offering to pave driveways in return for money up front. Once paid, they never return to the customer’s house. At least two Shandaken homeowners have lost money to these men, who have also been preying on residents of Olive and Middletown.


The police advise homeowners to beware of contractors going door-to-door, especially if they offer unrealistic discounts, claim to have leftover material from a nearby job, refuse to provide references, appear not to have the necessary equipment, or use high-pressure tactics of persuasion. It is safest to hire local contractors with ties to the community, and a formal bid and contract are advised before agreeing to a project, with no more than 1/3 of the cost paid up front.

Shandaken police also reported the arrest of an Oregon woman for breaking into a local residence and performing “acts of criminal mischief” including burglary, criminal possession of a weapon, resisting arrest, making graffiti, and other charges.

Asked whether these three incidents comprise a miniature crime wave in Shandaken, Police Chief Chad Storey said they do not. Local police routinely arrest several individuals each month for petty crimes, but we don’t usually hear about them except through statistics reported at town board meetings. “The paving scam has been around for years,” Storey commented. “Unfortunately, it made it to Shandaken this past week.”

Shandaken residents are encouraged to sign up for the town’s Emergency Alert System, which sends out notifications by phone, text, and/or email in the case of weather warnings and other threats to safety. Go to or call the town clerk’s office at 845-688-5004.

There are 2 comments

  1. Silvyia Gr,.

    The driveway scam is the oldest, most notorious cash-grab scam in the nation. People committ that kind of theft all the time, everywhere. Pick an online newspaper just about anywhere and you’ll see that story. Rule Number One – Always! Never, never, give cash upfront (and frankly after, either) a service like that is provided. Pay only when the job is complete, and pay by check so there is a lag time between snatching the check out of your hand and going to the bank. And never make the check out to ‘Cash’. Never. Never. Never. If the ‘service provider’ insists on cash then that person doesn’t want any record of them or the transaction. Get that name on that check, remember that name, and get a receipt. Then you at least have a chance of arrest, prosecution and in some cases, recouping some of your money.

Comments are closed.