City man denies purse snatching
By Brent Curtis
Staff Writer | March 11,2014
A Rutland man charged with taking a purse from a woman at knifepoint in the city denied a felony charge Monday.
Robert A. Vandriel, 25, pleaded innocent in Rutland criminal court to a charge of assault and robbery, which carries a potential 15-year jail sentence. Vandriel, who was arrested minutes after the alleged robbery on Friday, remains in jail on $50,000 bail.
Rutland Police say Vandriel was arrested after a call was received just after 8 a.m. Friday from a woman whose purse was stolen while she was walking on Grove Street.
Police Officer Ryon Sorrell wrote in court records that police chased a man wearing a red sweatshirt and carrying a knife to 117 Park Ave. where the man ran inside.
Sorrell said police surrounded the home and then knocked on the door. Eventually, Vandriel’s mother came to the door and told police that only she and her young child were at home. After the woman granted police permission to search the home, Sorrell said Robert Vandriel was found in bed in one of the rooms.
Initially, Vandriel told police he had been at the home since 6:30 a.m. But after police found a large knife wedged between the mattresses he was lying on as well as a red sweatshirt, Vandriel allegedly confessed to stealing the purse to support his drug habit.
It is not Vandriel’s first brush with the law.
He was sentenced in 2007 to serve five to 20 years in jail for starting two fires in Rutland in 2005.
The charges stem from fires that destroyed two apartment houses on Pine Street and damaged a city firetruck May 13, 2005.
Vandriel invited friends to “come look at my masterpiece” as he watched the houses burn, and told police he had been taking drugs and drinking beer before setting the fires, according to court records.