Burglars hit businesses and offices from Richmondville to Schoharie last Wednesday night, causing thousands in damage and stealing just as much in cash and goods.
Police believe the break-ins at the Richmondville town office, businesses on Granite Drive in Cobleskill and the Apple Barrel in Schoharie are probably related, though there's some question how thieves could have struck all three locations in a single night.
"It's a good possibility they're related," said Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond.
"I can't believe there are that many groups of burglars running around."
The Richmondville town office likely sustained the most damage. Burglars broke through a rear door, tipped over a copier and computer and scattered files in the town courtroom, according to town Supervisor Dick Lape.
"The courtroom was absolutely destroyed," said one law enforcement officer.
The burglars then went upstairs to the town clerk's office, broke a copier and scanner and scattered files there and in the tax assessor's office.
Thieves took "a minimum amount of money," Mr. Lape said.
"We were up and running again by Thursday afternoon," he added.
The most bizarre incident was at the strip of adjoining businesses owned by Scott Perrillo on Granite Drive in Cobleskill. The break-in was in a common area in back of the Perillo Insurance Agency.
Thieves didn't enter Mr. Perillo's Insurance Agency or the nearby ASKUS Consulting Services but instead broke through the wall to the adjoining Everything Shoppe.
From there, they tried to break through a second wall to Lorraine's Salon but didn't succeed. Then, apparently, the thieves went outside and broke into Catskill Area Hospice on the other side of Lorraine's; from there, they broke into the salon.
"The holes were not huge, just large enough for a person to get through," Cobleskill Police Chief Rich Bialkowski said.
Items were taken from Lorraine's, Mr. Perillo said, and Chief Bialkowski said several hundred dollars were taken from the stores.
But other than the walls, nothing was taken or damaged from Perillo Insurance, ASKUS or Catskill Area Hospice.
"They could have taken a TV, computers. . .but we didn't get touched," Mr. Perillo said.
He estimated damages to be $5,000.
The business suffering the most loss in thefts was the Apple Barrel. Owner Sue Loden and manager Jessica Kirby estimated that $8,000 in jewelry, candles, ornaments and cash were taken.
Burglars entered through a door at the Apple Barrel's café and then ransacked display cases and offices.
Cash was taken from an upstairs office the public doesn't often see, Ms. Loden said.
"It had to be someone who looked it over before," she said.
"Unless you had spent some time here, you wouldn't have known about the money upstairs," Ms. Kirby added.
In all the break-ins, thieves may have been trying to get cash and items to sell in order to buy drugs, one officer said.
Nelson Armlin, investigator for the Sheriff's Office, said he had "no outstanding leads" but added that he's still sifting through evidence in the Apple Barrel break-in.
Chief Bialkowski said he's working on a joint investigation with State Police, especially because there were similar break-ins the same night in Albany and Schenectady counties.
Both he and Investigator Armlin believe all the break-ins could be related.
"There's nothing to prove that they are, but it's not out of the question," Investigator Armlin said.
Anyone with information can call the Cobleskill Police at 234-2923 or the Sheriff's Office at 295-2266.