A series of attempted burglaries in the Coxsackie area, and one in Columbia County, with an emphasis on gun shops, is prompting investigators to wonder if the crimes are linked.
The Greene County Sheriff’s Office is investigating two of the break-ins, which occurred at Country Armory and RECON Defense, both in Coxsackie, Undersheriff Adam Brainard said Tuesday.
The incident at Country Armory occurred in the early morning of Feb. 19, and the other break-in took place between Tuesday and Thursday, Brainard said, adding that it was likely the same night.
“The attempt was not noticed immediately,” he said.
It is highly likely the two incidents are related, Brainard said.
Country Armory owner Shane Pilato credited the security measures at the store for thwarting the intruder.
“We are pretty well fortified here,” he said.
Pilato observed the suspect carrying a bag full of tools on the store’s security cameras.
“He was fully masked,” Pilato said. “He spent almost an hour in the distance looking at where our cameras were.”
At 3:59 a.m., the suspect attempted to break through the front door, bashing the glass with a crowbar nine times, Pilato said.
“The ballistic foam slowed him down,” Pilato said. “He realized he was running out of time.”
Deputies from the sheriff’s office were on the scene within three minutes, Pilato said.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives also responded, Pilato said.
“Robbing a gun shop is serious at a federal level,” Pilato said. “We got lucky.”
The shop is still waiting for a new door to be installed and is making do with plywood in the meantime, Pilato said, but other than that it is business as usual.
A woman who answered the phone at Zero Tolerance Mfg. in Ghent declined to comment on the burglary.
The store was closed Feb. 18 to conduct inventory, according to its Facebook.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.
In addition to the gun shops, another break-in occurred in the Coxsackie area last week. The Earlton Hill Country Store was robbed at 3 a.m. on Feb. 19, state police said.
Around 80 cartons of cigarettes were stolen, according to the store’s Facebook page.
“I would like to thank everyone for their continued support despite the crazy ups and downs that we have encountered this winter,” CEO Mark Anderson said in a statement. “Our crazy schedule, due to lack of employees, theft and most recently, robbery, has been quite the challenge for my daughter and others that work here...These events may slow us down a bit, but we are much stronger than those that bring them upon us.”
State police are investigating the incident, Public Information Officer Steven Nevel said Tuesday.
State police responded at 8 a.m. Feb. 19 for an apparent burglary, Nevel said.
“The window of the main door was broken out and items were taken from the store,” Nevel said.