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Please, Hammer, Don’t Hurt ’Em

Though the hammer is known more for its ability to pound than to seize, a clawed carpenter’s hammer has the City of Troy gripped in fear.

An indecisive man struck a fearful nerve with the people at the Mr. Subb on the corner of Burden Avenue and Main Street in Troy when he paused in front of the store Monday afternoon with a hammer in hand, Troy Police Detective Sgt. John Riegert said. The police received a distressed call from the eatery around 4 PM fearing that the Hammer Bandit was about to strike again.

Police believe that the man known as the Hammer Bandit is responsible for four robberies throughout Rensselaer County in the past month. The bandit’s technique is simple: He enters an establishment (two liquor stores, a Cumberland Farms and a Dunkin’ Donuts so far) and, wielding a clawed carpenter’s hammer, demands money from the clerk.

But when police arrived at the scene Monday they did not find a hammer bandit, just a man who had been trying to fix his car with a hammer and was looking for a place to make a phone call.

Riegert said the actual suspect, a white male typically wearing a dark-colored ski mask and winter coat, is still at large; Riegert recommends that anyone confronted by him comply with his wishes before calling the police at 270-4426.

—Travis Durfee

Vets Keep Their Home

It’s a win on a technicality, but David Stacey of the Albany Housing Coalition is just grateful to be back on solid ground. On Dec. 1, the New York Supreme Court ruled in a lawsuit brought by the coalition [“Down But Not Out,” Oct. 16] that although the city was justified in seeking to revoke the zoning permit for the Tyler Arms Veterans Home [“No Veterans in My Backyard,” Sept. 18], they made several procedural missteps that invalidated the decision.

The city had until the end of this week to appeal, so Stacey was trying to keep quiet about the decision and not ruffle any feathers. “We’re in business, we’re going to try to be good neighbors, stay in line with what we’re supposed to do,” he said. “We don’t want to upset anybody any more. . . . A lot of people moved out during this procedure, they were afraid we would have to close.” The coalition has decided not to seek a change to the building’s zoning that would allow them house other low-income people along with veterans, something they were applying for at the time the existing permit was revoked.

—Miriam Axel-Lute

Crows Away!

For more than a month, residents or people passing through the southern end of Albany’s Delaware Area Neighborhood in the evening have heard creepy birdlike noises echoing off the buildings and houses for blocks, coming from the University Heights area to the west. Albany hasn’t entered an Alfred Hitchcock movie, however. The noises are recordings of birds of prey killing crows, broadcast from four speakers atop the Office of Mental Health building at 44 Holland Ave.

The recordings are intended to drive off crows, which have been roosting in the area in flocks of more than 20,000, said an employee of Picotte Companies, which handles the building’s maintenance. They are played from fall to early spring and from dusk to dawn. They were installed after “a lot of complaints about the bird droppings. It’s unsanitary, it’s smelly, and it’s messy,” said the employee, adding that they have used the recordings successfully for the past three years without complaints.

A broader anti-crow campaign in the same vicinity began on Monday and will run until Jan. 15. The United States Department of Agriculture will use “non-lethal harassment methods” including pyrotechnics, lasers, and more recorded distress calls.

—Miriam Axel-Lute

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