Late-night mini crime spree strikes lakefront

Spike in crime leads to increased patrols

Two vehicle thefts in Charlotte over the past week have Vermont State Police (VSP) looking for more information from the public. One car was stolen from a driveway, and another was stolen from the parking lot at Point Bay Marina. In addition, a WaveRunner personal watercraft found floating in Lake Champlain near the site of the vehicle stolen from a residence could be connected to the crimes, and possibly indicates a three-crime spree from one person.

A press release issued by the VSP states that at 8:45 a.m. on September 16, Robin Coleburn of Charlotte reported that her blue 2012 Mini Cooper Countryman was missing; it was last seen in her driveway on Flat Rock Road the previous evening. The car had been left unlocked overnight with the key inside.

Late September 15 or early on September 16, according to the press release, “State Police were advised of a personal watercraft that was located unattended near residences on Flat Rock Road…The PWC, a 2011 red and black Yamaha WaveRunner, appeared undamaged. The PWC owner was contacted and advised Vermont State Police the vehicle was stolen from his camp in Willsboro, N.Y.”

Two days later, on September 18, Richard Preston, of Alstead, NH, returned to Point Bay Marina on Thompson’s Point Road from a several-day sailing trip. His gray 2012 Buick Lacrosse was missing from the parking lot. It had been parked at the marina on September 15. When VSP went to the marina to speak with Preston and Point Bay staff, they unexpectedly located the missing Mini Cooper.

Inside the car was, according to police, “a red lanyard with black plastic key used for operating a PWC.”

After being examined and processed for DNA, the Mini Cooper was returned to Coleburn. The Buick has not yet been found. Current potential charges for whoever stole the cars include grand larceny and aggravated operation without consent.

Sergeant Michael Kamerling from the VSP said that it can take 30 to 60 days to get results back from a DNA test, depending on how busy the laboratory is with other crime work that might be more urgent. “The statute of limitations on these things is much longer than that,” he added, “so we’ll still be able to get a prosecution. Hopefully, the person is known and we can make a DNA connection.” Kamerling also said that the license plate of the missing Buick has been entered into a national stolen vehicle database, and if the perpetrator was originally from the Willsboro area and drove back there, New York State Police have cars equipped with license plate readers that can scan for stolen cars as troopers are on patrol.

The car thefts come after weeks of burglaries in the Charlotte and Ferrisburgh area, both in private homes and businesses. “We’ve had a spike in crime down that way for sure,” Kamerling said. He guesses that the crime increase comes down to one thing: “Drugs. Most of our property crimes can be tied back to people trying to get their hands on valuable merchandise that they can sell and use to buy drugs with. That’s my theory.”

Kamerling said that state police are paying extra attention to Charlotte these days. “I will say that we’ve spent a considerable amount of time down there as of late,” he said, “in response to these thefts. I know we’ve been doing directed patrols late at night, hiding in the shadows, so to speak, seeing if we can make some kind of connection down there, and we’ll continue to do that until we get a lead and we can follow through.”
While police wait for the DNA results, they ask that anyone with any information contact the Williston barracks at (802) 878-7111.