Sefer Torah Theft Suspect Had Done Handyman Work At Monticello Shul


chris-colvill-monticelloMonticello – The Woodridge man charged with the theft of a $35,000 Sefer Torah from Landfield Avenue Shul had worked on several repair projects at the shul and had been sought for weeks for questioning, the shul’s rov said.

Chris Colvill, a registered abuse offender who has served prison time for attempted sodomy and attempted assault, had called days before the theft looking for work at the shul, said Rabbi Ben-Zion Chanowitz. Colvill, 41, also contacted him with an updated phone number on Jan. 1, the day after the Sefer Torah was found missing, Chanowitz said.

“I didn’t think anything bad of him,” Chanowitz said. “I thought he was a nice person.”

The Sefer Torah was stolen sometime between the night of Dec. 30 and the morning of Dec. 31. Rabbi Chanowitz arrived in the morning to find his office and the shul’s secretary’s office tossed, with $200 in tzedakah missing.

The rov also found empty one of three aronei hakodesh used to store the Sefer Torah, which was purchased a decade ago following a year-long fund-raising campaign.

Colvill was arrested at a house in Woodridge around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday. He was charged with third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a felony, and sent to Sullivan County Jail without bail after his arraignment in Fallsburg Town Court.

State records say Colvill spent over five years in prison after being convicted of first-degree attempted assault. The victim was a 4-year-old girl, according to the state’s offender registry.

He was also imprisoned in April 2006 following a conviction for attempted second-degree assault. His release on that conviction came in October 2009.

It was about a year ago that Colvill accompanied a contractor hired to do some work at the shul, Rabbi Chanowitz said.

Colvill, listed at 6 feet, 240 pounds, was a suspect from the beginning because of the way a door was broken into, Rabbi Chanowitz said.

“They called him ‘The Bull,'” he said. “Whenever they (contractors) had something big and heavy to be moved, they called him.”

{The Times Herald Record/ Newscenter}


  1. Monticello area etc.. is full of ex-convicts. They dont have anything else to do all day. I remember a owner of a bungolow colony who used to bail out a guy from the landfield avenue prison every summer to do cheap work.