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Police see property damage increase

Woodbury police hope the end of summer also brings closure to a season of small-time, but costly, vandalism to city property.

It is common to see an increase in graffiti and property damage over the summer, Public Safety director Lee Vague said, but the city has seen a spike in damage reports in recent months. Youths are suspected for most of the damage.

Vandalism has included obscene markings on the roof of the Bielenberg Sports Center dome, spray paint on other city property and damaged park bathrooms, which in some cases led to the facilities' temporary closure.

It can be costly to fix the damage, Vague said. The Bielenberg graffiti, for instance, required new paint.

"It's something that obviously needs to be cleaned up right away," he said.

Public safety officials could not immediately quantify the number of vandalism reports or estimated cost of the damage.

Patrol officer Tony Ofstead has taken the lead in handling the public property damage complaints, Vague said. Ofstead and others are getting closer to identifying juveniles believed responsible.

"It's frustrating," Vague told city council members last week. "It's not fun when you're a cop and you're being outsmarted by kids."

But when school starts in two weeks, students may start squawking and claiming credit for the damage. Cases could be solved as a result of that boasting, Vague said.

If juveniles responsible for the damage are identified, their restitution may include an appearance before the city council, which approves public infrastructure spending.

"It's an accountability issue," council member Paul Rebholz said.