BLOOMINGDALE - The town of St. Armand has recovered most of the tools and equipment stolen from the town Highway Department Garage during a burglary in May.
Robert J. LaFountain, 47, was arrested by state police on June 20 and charged with third-degree burglary, a class D felony, for allegedly breaking into the building on May 24, according to Essex County Chief Assistant District Attorney Michael Langey. LaFountain is currently in the Clinton County Jail in Plattsburgh awaiting further court proceedings.
Town resident Sandy Hayes brought up the incident during Tuesday night's town board meeting. He said he heard about it from two different sources and asked why it hadn't been made public.
"Never in a meeting have I heard anything about the theft of the town equipment," Hayes said. "Can you tell us about what's going on with the theft and the status of the equipment?"
Supervisor Joyce Morency said the garage was broken into overnight in May. All kinds of equipment and power tools were stolen, she said, including chainsaws, drills, grinders and a trimmer.
"There was some professional characters that were going around doing this all through the area," Morency said. "When it happened to us, we called the state police. We were lucky because they caught the guy. This van was filled with all kinds of carry-out tools that came out of our garage and I think others."
Morency said she reported the incident to the town's insurance company. Meanwhile, state police in Plattsburgh were keeping the stolen tools and equipment as evidence.
"They were holding onto it in Plattsburgh to see if they'd need it for the court case," Morency said. "I called the DA and asked for help. I said, 'We need them back. Our guys cannot go out and buy new tools.' They pressed around, and they got it back for us, maybe the day after that. We went to Plattsburgh, loaded it in our truck and brought it home. So the guys have the tools back."
The only thing the town didn't get back was a $500 trimmer, Morency said.
The supervisor said she thought the break-in was common knowledge, although other members of the town board apparently didn't know about it.
"It was talked about all over town at the time," Morency said. "I thought everybody knew about it."
Councilman Sam Grimone asked if the building was damaged during the break-in.
"I don't think so," she said. "It was locked, but these guys did this professionally. They can pop a lock like nothing, I guess."
Langey said he didn't have any additional information on the circumstances surrounding the burglary, including whether anyone else was involved and the value of what was allegedly stolen. He said LaFountain is scheduled to appear in St. Armand town court in September.
Staff at the Clinton County Jail said LaFountain is being held on multiple burglary counts stemming from incidents in Champlain and Plattsburgh.