By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Residents awoke Wednesday morning to find their quiet neighbourhood blanketed with graffiti after an overnight vandalism spree. Vehicles, garbage cans, fences, sidewalks and buildings were tagged with symbols, slogans, and profanity. The vandalism took place off 102 Street in the area of 95 to 97 Avenue.
Morinville RCMP responded to complaints on the incident before 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, taking photos of the multiple properties hit during the spree. Constable Darren Hall, who attended the scene Wednesday morning, said it is believed the vandalism occurred sometime between midnight and 5:30 a.m. “Unfortunately, I don’t have any suspects at this time,” Hall said, adding police retrieved some paint cans and were sending them for analysis. “We’re just reaching out for anyone who saw anything to give us a call.”
The constable is concerned by the level of vandalism the community is seeing recently. “This one event in itself; there’s just no concern for people’s property when they’re spray painting fences and cars. To me that’s different than spray painting the street.”
The incident is perhaps the largest case of vandalism in the community this year, and follows a number of smaller incidents in the Hittinger district this spring. Police have not suggested any connection between incidents; however, Staff Sergeant Mac Richards said he has seen an uptick in vandalism in the community this spring.
“It would appear that the numbers have been increasing over the last month and half, two months,” Richards said, noting residents can avoid some forms of vandalism by not leaving valuables in their vehicles when unattended. “Some of them you are limited in what you can do. If they are going on your lawn and taking your lawn lights, there is not much you can do about that.”
Richards said a key to combating vandalism is to report what is going on to police, including reporting people wandering around late at night even if they are not causing any trouble. “It’s worth a phone call,” he said. “At least we are aware that people are out and about, and maybe we can change some people’s decisions about what they’re going to do while they’re out.”
He estimates the dollar damage from Wednesday’s incident to be considerable when one factors in the time to paint over or scrape off the graffiti. “Some of these won’t be covered by insurance, depending on what’s damaged,” he said. “There is a financial cost to the victims. To spray paint a car or a fence – that is just malicious.
Richards is hoping someone will turn the vandals in. “Someone in town knows who is responsible,” he said. “We’d like them to sort of do the right thing as a community member.”
He explained acts of vandalism can carry a higher level of offense, depending on what is damaged. A broken window may be valued at $100, but because it is attached to a residence, it would be treated at mischief over $5,000.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Morinville RCMP Detachment at 780-939-4550 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.