Graffiti and vandalism rampant in Carbondale this summer
CARBONDALE – Summertime apparently is graffiti time, as the Carbondale Police Department continues to respond to an increasing stream of vandalism cases.Throughout the last year or so, random acts of vandalism, including graffiti and damage to public and private property have been commonplace around town.Targets have included graffiti on the children’s art tiles at the Sopris Park bathrooms, the Carbondale skate park, gravestones and memorials, and damage to downtown trees, schools, park bathrooms, the Hendrick Ranch soccer field, River Valley Ranch, mailboxes, and vehicles. The Carbondale Police Department is asking that residents help out and report any suspicious activity.”The more eyes out there the better,” said Carbondale Police Sgt. Greg Knott.A couple of eyes in the Colorado Meadows neighborhood led police to apprehend three young boys on July 9. The boys, ages, 6, 10 and 13, were contacted at the Colorado Meadows Park for “spraypainting the heck out of the basketball courts,” according to Knott, who credited the witness for calling the police. The two younger kids can’t be charged, but Knott said the 13-year-old might be summoned to appear in court.The juveniles reportedly admitted to writing several nationalistic messages on the court like “Mexican State Vato,” “We Rule This State,” “Vato Loco” and “True Mexican,” among other pictures and sayings. “I think it’s younger kinds emulating what they see,” Knott said of the graffiti at Colorado Meadows, which was similar to other graffiti around town within the last month. Knott said the incidences are believed to be separate.Around June 24 or 25, the white marble memorial at Miner’s Park was spraypainted with the letters “OSC.” The memorial honors the 15 miners who died in the 1981 Mid-Continent Resources mine explosion.And, on July 6 at 12 p.m., Carbondale Police discovered three gravestones at the Weaver Cemetery along Eighth Street were tagged with “OSC” as well as another symbol. “OSC” was also found inside the Sopris Park bathrooms in June and painted on the West wall of the bathrooms July 10.Knott said the police department is actively investigating the cases.The crimes seem to be part of a growing trend, but it’s not new, said Knott, who has dealt with “wanna-be” gang activity, graffiti and vandalism throughout his 14 years on the Carbondale force. He said he didn’t think “OSC” was gang-related.When memorials are desecrated, there is more than the monetary damage, said Carbondale Trustee Stacey Patch Bernot, who is “outraged” by the recent acts of vandalism at the cemetery and at Miner’s Park. “Any type of vandalism is awful, but if they’re taking memorials and gravestones, something like that with that personal connection, I think it’s horrible,” said Bernot, whose father Ron Patch is one of the miners memorialized at Miner’s Park. “I just ask the community to be vigilant. (If the vandals are caught) I plan on speaking to the individuals just so they know the significance of what they did,” she said.Vandalism to public property costs the town thousands of dollars, said Public Works Director Larry Ballenger, whose department usually ends up fixing or cleaning up after the vandals. Ballenger has offered a $500 reward for anyone with information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators who destroyed the bathrooms at Sopris Park and Miner’s Park recently.Depending on the cost of the damage, vandalism and destruction of property ranges from a misdemeanor to a felony charge, said Knott.Anyone with any information regarding vandalism is encouraged to call the Carbondale Police Department at 963-2662.
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