The offenses are believed to have occurred in the predawn hours Thursday in the neighborhood spanning in a square from Oak Avenue to Elm Street and College Street across to Whitworth Street, according to SSPD Patrol Capt. Norman Colyer.
“We started getting calls this morning around 7 a.m., maybe a little earlier, of graffiti spray-painted on both residences and vehicles” Colyer said. “It was mostly vehicles parked on the street, several houses and one school, Douglas School, and the apartments around the school, all spray-painted with graffiti. We believe they’re all going to be done by the same actors or group actors. All have the same thing on them, CSU, sometimes it was written out, and some times in spray-painted graffiti art, mostly in the same primary colors of blue and silver, and some others.”
Police believe that CSU represents the phrase “Can’t Stop Us,” which was actually written out in a few places.
Officers are still in the preliminary stages of the investigation into the vandalism, but have already talked to most of the victims, as well as individuals in the area affected, to see if anyone saw or heard anything or anyone suspicious in the early morning hours Thursday. Two witnesses in two different areas who were “out and about” at 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. reported seeing no damages or anything suspicious at that time.
“We are doing our best to figure out who is doing this. Some residences had quite a bit of paint damage with that [CSU] written on it two to three times,” Colyer said. We are doing everything we can. We have two detectives out working on this, and our patrol guys are out on the streets. I’m sure this will make it to Crimes Stoppers as soon as we can get it done.”
Colyer encourages anyone with any information, even if it seems small or inconsequential, to contact the police department at 903-885-7602.
“People may think, well it’s not my property damaged so I’m not going to get involved. It may be their property next time if we don’t stop this. It may take someone seeing something out of the ordinary. We are doing an investigation to find out, but at this point don’t know if it’s juveniles or who it might be. I do know it doesn’t take a lot of brains to spray paint something not theirs, especially using the cover of darkness. .... We need to catch these folks. We’ve only got so many officers at a time. If you’re out, and you might see something, please let us know,” Colyer said.
He also apologized in advance if neighborhood residents are approached by officers in that area, especially after dark, and asked what they’re doing. Officers will be stopping anyone, particularly in that area, if they appear suspicious.
“We probably will ups and offend, and even make some folks mad by stopping them and asking them what they’re doing. They’re probably not doing anything illegal or up to no good. I apologize in advance, but we have to find out who’s responsible. I’m sure the people with property damage will not be offended if we see them and ask them what they're doing,” Colyer said.
Police plan to file all of the criminal mischief offenses together, which is expected to make the vandalism a state jail felony, and depending on the tally of damages could bump the offense up to a state jail felony, Colyer noted.
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