Cops add emphasis patrol to stake out problem areas
August 28, 2008 · Updated 9:11 AM
MARYSVILLE If timing is everything, the Marysville cops didnt have it last weekend.
A nighttime sting operation involving a large group of undercover officers targeted several vandals known to be causing damage in town, but the effort apparently stalled just hours before vandals ran amok in the city, hitting several properties with extensive graffiti.
By Monday, however, two juveniles were in custody for causing serious damage to schools and homes. One 12-year-old boy was being held for damage to a vacant house totaling at least $15,000 in damage, while a 13-year-old was in custody for the damage to Allen Creek Elementary School, Cedarcrest Middle School and Marysville Junior High School.
According to Marysvilles interim police chief John Turner, the 13-year-old is the sole suspect for the graffiti at the three schools but the 12-year-old was joined by his 11- and 7-year-old brothers in breaking the windows to their next-door neighbors house and car. That house was vacant at the time and the crime was one of opportunity; according to Turner there were no previous problems between the two families. The house was also covered with graffiti.
It was a field day, Turner said, adding that a neighbor caught the trio. Theres no doubt no they did it.
The other youngsters havent been charged, and Turner said under Washington state law the burden is upon the prosecutor to prove that they knew what they were doing was wrong. Thats not likely and just getting the 12-year-old behind bars was difficult.
The juvenile court didnt want to take him, Turner said. We had to announce how much damage he committed, a ballpark figure of $15,000. Thats a lot of damage.
The Marysville Police Department had an extra group of seven officers on duty last weekend following some likely suspects known for vandalism and drug use in the past. Most of the offenders were in their mid-teens and police were watching their usual hangouts for activity, as well as cruising the streets and keeping an eye on city parks and commercial districts. At one point a group of five officers were tracking trespassers in Jennings Memorial Park, using a night vision scope to scout the park in the dark. With a police commander, a sergeant and the other officers, the stakeout cost the city an extra $3,000 in overtime. By 1 a.m. the only vandalism observed was a prankster who sprayed one of the departments unmarked cars with Silly String as it sat next to the park while the undercover officers returned from the patrol.
Earlier that morning an undercover unit noticed a car in the Allen Creek parking lot, but it was just a district maintenance worker leaving after boarding up the damaged portable at midnight. Vandals returned later that morning spray-painting drug slogans and police taunts on the walls.
For Turner the dilemma is whether to let the community know whats going on or not. He believes that many of the vandals relish the publicity and notoriety of their work, but Turner wants citizens to know his officers are working on the problem but he doesnt want to reward vandals with attention.
I think the reality is the more we do, the more we get, Turner said, acknowledging his department is feeling the heat from the City Council and mayor, who are getting an earful from citizens. We are doing everything we can and more. Weve given it great consideration.