Crime and Justice

Springfield Parks and Rec Department was just one target in a string of break-ins

Springfield seen from Elm Hill Road last month. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

In back-to-back burglaries in June, thieves made off with tools and a truck owned by Springfield’s Parks and Recreation Department — just one in a wave of break-ins that have frustrated business owners.

The Parks and Rec Department took to Facebook to seek community help in recovering its stolen goods. 

“Some of you know that on 11 June we had a break-in of our maintenance garage at Riverside. In that break-in, they stole nearly all the tools used to maintain our parks. Well, we had another one last night/this morning,” says the post from June 30. “This time they made off with the remainder of the tools and those we’ve replaced since 11 June. They also stole our town truck.

“While the items are replaceable, these selfish acts will greatly diminish our ability to provide safe and enjoyable recreational activities for all Springfield area residents for some time,” the post says.

According to the post, the stolen items are insured, and Jeff Mobus, Springfield town manager, said efforts are already underway to file insurance claims. Springfield Police Chief Mark Fountain did not have more information to share about the parks and rec incidents as of Friday morning. 

Springfield, which has 9,000 residents, sits on the southeastern edge of Windsor County. This year, the town has experienced a rise in gunfire incidents, including a homicide last month. Those violent crimes have brought increased scrutiny on burglaries and other thefts, which some business owners say are making workaday life difficult to maintain. 

Some of those owners confronted the town’s Selectboard about finding a solution to the trend at a meeting on June 13.

Scott Ballard, owner of Jim Ballard’s Precision Valley Auto, told the Selectboard that his business has been broken into twice in the last two years, and each time it has cost him thousands. 

“It’s devastating to a person to be broken into. Period,” he said. 

Dan Matulonis, owner of Matulonis Auto Body in Springfield, shared a similar story of having a car stolen from his shop. He said he’s put bars across the shop’s windows to protect against further thefts. 

“People are asking now when they leave their cars, ‘Is it safe?’” he said.

On June 7, the Springfield Police Department, in conjunction with the state police barracks in Westminster, hosted a community forum to address questions and concerns about the violent crimes. Police and town officials have cited staffing shortages as a primary factor inhibiting the town’s ability to respond to crime. 

At the Selectboard meeting less than a week later, little had changed. 

“Your words aren’t falling on deaf ears,” Kristi Morris, the Selectboard chair, told residents who spoke out about public safety issues. “We do take it seriously. I can say that, but if it’s not seen, we gotta work harder.”

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Ethan Weinstein

About Ethan

Ethan Weinstein is a general assignment reporter focusing on Windsor County and the surrounding area. Previously, he worked as an assistant editor for the Mountain Times and wrote for the Vermont Standard.

Email: [email protected]

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