Thieves feast on food, steal cash register at Lake Iroquois

By Kim Howard

Thieves made off with food and cash during a theft last week at Lake Iroquois Beach.

On Monday, Aug. 22, employees running the snack bar at the Lake Iroquois Recreation District beach reported that approximately $500 in food and supplies had been stolen. According to Williston Police Chief Ozzie Glidden, there are no suspects at this time.

Bridge Street Cafe and Grill in Richmond has been running the snack bar since June, according to cafe owner Marvin Carpenter. Employee Linda Sweet, who has worked at the snack bar since it opened earlier this summer, was the last one to leave on Sunday, Aug. 21, at approximately 1:30 p.m., she said. She and co-worker Janet Irish returned Monday at 10:30 a.m.

"She had a funny feeling when she came in," said Irish of her colleague Sweet. Irish was the first to notice that the cash register was missing.

The police report indicated that in addition to the cash register, which is owned by the recreation district, the thieves stole approximately $200 worth of food including corn dogs, hot dogs, hamburgers, M&M candy, soft drinks and sports drinks. Approximately $10 in cash was all that was in the register, as cash is removed from the building every night, according to Sweet and Irish.

In late June or early July, said Irish, the doorknob on the backdoor was taken off by someone in an apparent break-in attempt. A new doorknob was installed and a padlock added. This time, however, the trespassers came in through the front.

"They came in the hard way," said Irish of the thieves. "It was with a lot of hard work."

Through a hole about a half-inch wide, it appeared a curved tool of some kind had been used to reach through the door and lift up a deadlock on one of the top doors, said Irish, pointing to scratches along the deadlock. An additional lock has been added since the entry.

Carpenter said that while the impact to his business as a result of the theft is "not huge," there are other impacts.

"It's such a great place over there," he said, noting he went to Lake Iroquois as a kid. "The majority of people over there are young families and the kids. I hate to see stuff like this influence that."

The Lake Iroquois Recreation District is comprised of Williston, Richmond, Hinesburg and St. George. Neil Boyden, Richmond commissioner and chair of the governing board, said that the theft could have an impact on the district.

"It's always on a shoestring," Boyden said, as the district operates on season pass sales and daily sales at the gate. "So $500, if that's the replacement cost for the cash register, is pretty significant. We try to keep our rates as low as possible."

Aside from the attempted and completed break-ins of the snack bar, two other acts of vandalism have been documented this summer at Lake Iroquois.

In May, the aluminum boat used to put out buoy markers was stolen and has not been recovered, according to Glidden. And in mid-July, seven rose bushes were stolen according to resident Dorothea Wilkinson, whose family was instrumental in planting 24 rose bushes in the area adjacent to the new playground.

Glidden does not believe vandalism in Williston is increasing. "We have just sporadic incidents here and there. We don't have a lot of vandalism."

"In the past we've had picnic tables vandalized" at Lake Iroquois, said Glidden.

From time to time police have also noted beer cans left on the beach from apparent parties, or tracks on the beach from all-terrain vehicles, he said. "Usually the incidents are pretty minor in nature."

Anyone with information about these vandalism incidents is urged to call the Williston Police Department at 878-6611.