JUNE 2, 2017

Crimes and misdemeanors, June 2 edition

In the early ‘70s, a movie starring Al Pacino told the story of a young heroin user who lived in a seedy park on New York’s Upper West Side. The film was called “Panic in Needle Park,” using a common nickname that described urban park areas where heroin addicts congregated. As anyone living in the city then could tell you, these were not places where you chose to set down your picnic blanket and play with your kids.

A little past midnight last Sunday, a picnic table on the property of Bedford Hills Elementary School provided the backdrop for a similar suspected activity involving a 28-year-old local man and several others. In fact, that was one of an unusually high number of disturbing reports filed by local police last week across our towns.

A mini-vandalism spree of teens throwing rocks through windows seemed to break out last week. In Bedford Hills, one of the vandals’ targets was the same elementary school where the drug users were arrested May 28. Another was the just-renovated train station at Depot Plaza, and a third was a home on nearby Cherry Street. In South Salem three days later, 20 windows were smashed with rocks at a large vacant home on Conant Valley Road. Neighbors said they saw a group of teens hanging out on the premises and heard sounds of shattering glass.

An incredibly brazen crime, also involving broken glass, was discovered last Saturday afternoon in the main commuter parking lot in Katonah. A woman returning to her car after parking it there early that morning discovered that thieves had removed the driver’s side door. Can you imagine walking up to your car after spending a day in the city, taking your car keys out of your pocket or purse to unlock it — and realizing that the car door is, well, gone? The driver’s side rear window was shattered to gain entry to the car, police reasoned, and then thieves used tools to remove the driver’s side door. There was still more trouble the same day in Katonah’s Lot 1. Another person who parked there found that someone had broken into her car and stolen the air bag.

We’ve been hearing a lot in recent weeks about a wave of larcenies involving unlocked cars in residents’ driveways. The pair of commuter lot crimes reported May 27 is especially worrisome for the hundreds of commuting residents at each train station, who think they have left their cars safe and secure in the Katonah, Goldens Bridge and Bedford Hills lots.

Maybe the targeted cars were not equipped with alarms, or they were parked in less visible, rear sections of the lot. Police regularly patrol these parking areas. Surely their presence plays some deterrent role. But how do you fully protect your vehicle from a determined thief who is hell-bent on stealing your car door?

So far, the driveway-based break-ins that have struck all three towns — “crimes of opportunity,” in police parlance — have snared valuables and loose items like water bottles and clothing that were left inside unlocked cars. The best way to ensure that your possessions (and interior auto parts) are still there in the morning when you get ready to go to work is simply to lock the doors and arm the alarm. That’s such a small step of insurance to take, yet so easy to overlook or dismiss as unnecessary in the habitual comfort zones around our own homes. 

Police are still looking for the kids who smashed the windows in Bedford Hills, although there are leads reported in the South Salem case. Investigations into the car larcenies in Katonah are also still under investigation. As for what looked to police like a drug-fueled party around the picnic table outside Bedford Hills Elementary, the outcome was more concrete: two men from the Bronx, both in their 50s, were arrested and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, and the local resident was charged with possession “of a hypodermic instrument.” Drug paraphernalia found at the scene included a crack pipe, empty syringes, rolled-up dollar bills and small white envelopes that later tested positive for heroin. A fourth person in the group, a woman, was not charged.

Flashback to the ‘70s and ‘80s in New York City and other communities when petty street crimes and car break-ins soared as heroin and crack cocaine addicts looked for easy cash to fuel their habits. Today, in contrast, things feel pretty safe here in the northern suburbs. And surely one set of heroin-related arrests does not put us in “needle park” territory. Still, with the spike in opioid use in the region, one can’t help but wonder whether the rash of car crimes we’re seeing around our towns is not somehow unrelated.

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market,Trinity Corners Shopping Center, 55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco, 66 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy, Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli, Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell, Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center, 193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli, Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli, 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)

  3. Meme’s Treats, 17 Adams Street


  1. Little Joe’s Books, 25 Katonah Avenue     

  2. CVS – Katonah Shopping Center, 294 Katonah Avenue   

  3. Katonah Sunoco, 105 Bedford Road

  4. The Reading Room, 19 Edgemont Road

  5. Weinstein’s Pharmacy, 101 Katonah Avenue

  6. DeCicco Family Markets, 132 Bedford Road

  7. Katonah Pharmacy, 202 Katonah Avenue

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News, 239 Main Street    

Cross River

  1. Cross River Shell Station, Route 35    

  2. Cameron’s Deli. 890 Route 35

  3. Cross River Pharmacy, 20 North Salem Road

  4. DeCicco Family Markets, 1 Orchard Plaza

Goldens Bridge

Cardware Store, 100 N. County Shopping Center

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