PIERMONT, N.Y. -- Residents of this river village are beginning to feel concerned about a series of crimes that have been committed by a group of teens. The crimes include car theft, vandalism, and setting fire, accidentally, at Piermont's historic First Reformed Church.
"I believe we have to get the community talking about this," said resident Michael Matulac. "These are serious crimes, especially for minors."
Mayor Chris Sanders said he would not comment on the record because "it concerns juveniles," but he urged people to speak up on the issue at village board meetings.
On a Piermont NY Community Facebook thread, residents earlier this month weighed in on the issue. One poster said, "If they are committing grand theft and malicious destruction, they are at a crisis point."
Just who these teens are is not exactly a secret. Many say they see the group hanging around in public spaces including near the library and near the Flywheel.
Late last year, the teens were caught stealing a BMW from Hudson Terrace. Early this year, the teens broke into the Piermont Community Center and vandalized it.
The most high-profile event took place in early April when the teens, who were drunk, accidentally set the First Reform Church afire. On the Facebook thread, Pastor John VandenOever attempted to set the record straight. "The fire was not set intentionally but it did involve inebriated teenagers who had an informal okay to seek shelter there if needed." The pastor further clarified that the teens did not have clearance to spend the night in the church and that they disobeyed the no-smoking rule."
A lit cigarette initiated the blaze.
Several weighing in say the underlying issue is drug and alcohol abuse.
"When teens use drugs and alcohol, they make bad decisions," said Matulac.