Break-in Reveals Breakdown at the Warner Library

There’s intrigue and mystery surrounding a burglary at Tarrytown’s Warner Library which occurred on the weekend of September 20. Like a good "whodunit" there are a cast of characters that include the Library Director, the Library Board of Trustees, Library employees, the Village of Tarrytown and the Police Department.

imagesSurrounding this non-publicized event are two facts that raise multiple questions about the inner workings at the Warner Library. The first one is that a key was used to enter the Library – a key that forty-five to fifty people had copies of, by all estimates from the Police Department. Adding to the plethora of people with access to the Library is the second fact.

The wires of the intrusion alarm system had been cut during a recent renovation and had never been reconnected, according to Library Director Kris Weltzheimer.

The situation of severed alarm wires left the Library unprotected against theft from as far back as September 2007, according to emails between Weltzheimer and Joan Raiselis, a Library Trustee overseeing the Library restoration, along with fellow Trustee Carin Rubenstein. In one email dated 9/27/07 Weltzheimer notified Raiselis, Rubenstein and David Huber, also a Library Trustee, that "the wires had been cut as instructed in the design plans for the Green Room." Those cut wires actually caused problems with the alarm system and left partial security coverage throughout the Library. In another email on 9/27/08 Weltzheimer comments to Raiselis, Rubenstein and Huber that, "to avoid future problems, it might be helpful if I could review the design plans." When asked about how a Library Director could not know about design plans in her own library, Weltzheimer said, "The Library Board kept me out of the loop and I and the staff never knew from day to day what work was going to take place." Weltzheimer is on record as notifying the Library Board that she advised the staff not to set the intrusion alarm system until the cut wires were repaired.

In a response email dated 9/27/07 Library Trustee Joan Raiselis responded to Weltzheimer by saying, "I asked about 16 times if we had any type of security system. The answer was always no. Isn’t an intrusion alarm part of a security system? Is it connected to any central station or is it read only inside the library and if so, why bother when it is only on at night when no one is there?" Weltzheimer responded to Raiselis with, "I don’t recall you ever asking me if the Library has a security system, Joan. Yes – the Library has a security system. Yes, it is connected to a central alarm station, which is outside the Library. I believe the law requires that if you have an intrusion alarm system in the building it should be fully operational."

Weltzheimer reported that she later met with Raiselis and was told that the Library Board had decided that a new security system was too expensive and that the Library was not going to have a security system. Weltzheimer asked Raiselis if the Village of Tarrytown had given the Board permission to do that and Raiselis answered yes. We (River Journal) contacted the Village of Tarrytown about the supposed permission given to the Library Board not to have a security system.

In an effort to learn more about the internal decision-making surrounding the security system, this publication also placed two calls to Library Trustee Raiselis and two other calls to fellow Library Trustee Rubenstein. None were returned.

In April 2008 Kris Weltzheimer cancelled the contract between the Warner Library and Global Systems Integrators who maintained the security system. The renewal contract was due and she saw no reason to continue paying for a system that had not been fully operational since late September 2007.

According to Detective Sergeant Eugene Buonanno monies and equipment totaling approximately $5034 were stolen from the Warner Library on the weekend of September 20. That included $777 collected from fines and the copier machine, the Library Director’s computer, a laptop computer and an LCD projector. In addition, approximately $500 in damage was caused to a filing cabinet pried open.

Buonanno noted that in years past the Police Department responded to the activation of the security system on numerous occasions. He echoed the obvious – that a lot of damage could be caused to a library without a security system. Damage in the form of fire, vandalism and theft. "Even a partial system is better than nothing," he said. Then he added, "Someone had to know that the security system was off."

A security system was indeed off and reportedly inactive for a year – a fact that’s stranger than any fiction on the Library’s shelves.

On her own initiative, Library Director Weltzheimer had the security system reactivated after the break-in. It is only partial and there are several rooms within the Library that remain unprotected according to her.

At the time this publication went to press the Tarrytown Police Department’s case remained open.

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About the Author: Robert Bonvento