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December 03, 2016
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Police ID persons linked to series of home burglaries; Hunt is on in Town of Highland

Thanks to a vigilant resident, Town of Highland constables are hot on the heels of the person or persons responsible for a series of home break-ins. It was noted at the town board meeting on February 12 that there have been in the neighborhood of 20 to 30 break-ins reported in recent months. Because of that, the board unanimously voted to add $10,000 to the constabulary budget to beef up patrols.

“We have somebody in our sights,” chief administrative constable Mike Walton told the board. He said that was thanks to a neighbor who saw a vehicle that seemed “out of place.” That resident was able to get the plate number and the constabulary was able to run the plate and establish who the car is registered to, but so far “we have not been able to track down the car or the owner.”

Walton said that the homes in question are, for the most part, weekend and summer residences, and the break-ins occur late at night. “The perpetrators know our hours,” Walton continued, and said he asked for the money “to stop further break-ins by adding extended patrol hours.”

He implored residents, “If you see something, without getting in harm’s way, contact the police.” Residents in a small, rural town such as Highland, said the chief, “know when something’s not right.” And, he said, if necessary, call the New York State Police or the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.

Supervisor Andrew Boyar seconded those sentiments and said, “We need the extra money to beef up the patrols, but we are also asking our citizens to keep a ‘neighborhood watch.’”

“If you see something that looks out of place, or that doesn’t look right, be vigilant and call the police, by all means,” Boyar said.

Walton said that the members of the constabulary in Highland all have full-time employment and work for the town part time.

It was not clear exactly what the criminals are after, whether it is jewelry, cash or big-ticket items. Walton did not indicate whether or not the suspect or suspects are local, but because of the fact that they are well aware of the constables’ hours, he insinuated that they are, in fact, local residents. Further, because police are unable to track the car down, they may be “on the run.”

In other news, Warren Wagner, assistant chief of the Highland Lake Fire Department, recounted a frustrating 12-year stint as a fire advisory board representative who has been attempting to update an antiquated communication system for the fire and police, which he defined as “obsolete.”

The Sullivan County Legislature looked into three options to upgrade the system, including rebuilding the old system at a cost of $5.6 million, installing a high-band conventional analog system with Motorola at a cost of $9.7 million, or purchasing a state-of-the-art digital system that would cost up to $20 million. Because of the sheer magnitude of the cost of the last system, the legislature has decided the analog high-band or second system would be the most cost-effective and would provide 95% coverage in the Glen Spey, Callicoon, Shohola, Highland Lake areas.

“Because these are rural towns that border river property, 95% coverage is the best you can do,” he informed the board. “It’s not feasible to reach 100%.” But that’s a far cry better than the current system, which relies on lowband and is unable to be heard in steel structures such as schools. The high-band system, he said, can “bounce signals an unlimited distance” including within steel structures.