Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
Area of most reported vandalism
January 08, 2013
MONMOUTH -- Cassandra McGonigal had been warned Dec. 28 by a family member about the graffiti scrawled along the side of her home in east Monmouth. When she returned the following day from a two-day work trip to see it herself, "I used a few choice words."
"I'm really irritated and frustrated about what people have come to," McGonigal said. "You don't go destroying other people's property."
Likely, she wasn't the only Monmouth resident to express those sentiments. Late last month eight private and public properties across the city were tagged Dec. 28 and Dec. 29 -- and not in a small way.
Vandals spray painted graffiti on people's fences, on sidewalks, the windows of a vehicle and, in McGonigal's case, a 6-foot-tall tag on the side of her duplex, according to Monmouth Police.
There have been no arrests and no suspects. The incidents are related, with the subject and color of the graffiti indicative of a gang known to operate in the Pacific Northwest, officials said.
It's not certain this was actual gang activity, Monmouth Sgt. Kim Dorn said.
"It could be somebody who knows (what gang tags look like) and is applying it because of that," Dorn said.
"We get graffiti every once in a while, but nothing that's gang-related and not widespread like this."
Graffiti hasn't traditionally been a problem in Monmouth, with about 20 reports annually since 2010; in Independence, annual incidents of vandalism have ranged from 40 to close to 200 during the last four years.
But arrests for vandalism are rare, unless a suspect admits to it or is caught in the act or on camera, Dorn said. Besides reporting the crime and painting over it, there's also not much of a recourse for property owners.
Polk County Juvenile Department used to operate a grant-funded program that had youths fulfill community service requirements by cleaning graffiti in the area on weekends. That initiative ended a few years ago.
"Unfortunately, we don't have anything to offer them to help them clean up," Dorn said. "It makes our city look horrible and it's horrible for the property owner to have to clean it."
You Can Help
* While preventing graffiti isn't easy, the best way to avoid being a target is a well-lit home and street and, more importantly, citizens watching out for one another and reporting suspicious activity in their neighborhood.
Any Monmouth resident whose property was tagged late last month or who has information on this case is encouraged to call Monmouth Police at 503-838-1109.