Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1029187

Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 17, 2014

Vandalism problem continues

By David Hotle | Jul 10, 2013
Litter was on the ground this morning at the lower basketball court in Sunset Park. This photo was taken about 20 feet from a courtesy park trash can.

The upper basketball court at Sunset Park is reopened, but city workers report that the problems with litter and vandalism that had caused the court to be closed in the first place are continuing and Washington Police Chief Greg Goodman said that further steps may need to be taken.
Sunday’s police call log reported that trash was found all over the lower basketball court.
“Vandalism, or criminal mischief as we call it, seems to go in spurts,” Goodman said. “We get different varieties from painting on buildings to egging cars or some other kind of criminal mischief to vehicles. Recently we have had an issue with a lot of litter.”
At the upper basketball court, workers reported litter on the ground every morning. They also reported that subjects had been tampering with the timer on the lights. Workers put a padlock on the box, but the subjects had broken the padlock off. After that incident, the upper court was fenced off for over a week.
Goodman said that after the upper court was closed, workers began finding litter on the lower court. He said the police are going to be monitoring the courts closely.
“A littering ticket is not inexpensive,” he said. “We will review our tapes if need be.”
He said that there are cameras in the area and if the police find violations on the recordings, citations can be issued.
Goodman said if the littering and damage doesn’t stop in Sunset Park, the police department would have to look at taking additional action. He said with the upper court opening again, the police department is going to monitor the progress. He said the possibility of closing both basketball courts could be considered if the situation gets bad enough.
“We will do what we have to do,” he said. “They are going to have to keep it up and respect it. There are a lot of people who go down there just to play basketball, so they are going to have to help police that.”
Also there have been instances of car vandalisms in town. Goodman said that if someone finds their car has been vandalized, they could report this to the police. He also stresses that people lock their vehicles.  He said with more people out at night during the summer, locking vehicles and houses would cut down on the number of thefts. Parking a car near a lighted area can also help, he said. He also said if someone sees anything suspicious happening, they can call 653-2256 or 653-2107 to report the incident.
He said if the dollar amount of property damaged during vandalism exceeds a certain amount, the charge could become a felony.
“Sometimes it is people just out looking for something to do and other times it is more of a personal fight between people,” he said. “I think that every town experiences it — some worse than others. It is something we try to keep a handle on.”
Goodman said there seems to have been a lot of car issues recently. He said occasionally there is paint put onto a building.  He also said that on Tuesday, the department had a call about a group of people who were trying to break a railing off some stairs at Lincoln Elementary.

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