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Vandalism upsets NL residents

Heather Chapin-Fowler • Jun 9, 2014 at 9:10 PM

More than 15 households woke up to anarchist symbols spray-painted on their homes, cars, road signs throughout the eastern side of the village Saturday morning.

"They haven't even been out of school for a day," said an angry resident, Wanda Stewart, whose car and house were vandalized with the symbols, or "tags."

Stewart's car is only a year old and it was tagged in black. Her white garage door was tagged in red.

Sixteen residents were victimized, according to New London Police Officer Kevin Verburg, who went on a manhunt after receiving a tip that a stop sign was tagged in the area about 1 a.m., he said.

"We have identified one adult and two juveniles at this point. We're still trying to gather all the evidence," Verburg said.

Once the concerned citizen called police to notify them of the tagging, Verburg started his hunt with a spotlight on foot in the area of South Maple and East Main streets, the area targeted by the vandals.

During the search, Verburg located the 19-year-old former East Main Street male resident in the targeted area. The suspect didn't have any paint with him when he was stopped by Verburg, the officer said. However, Verburg declined to comment on whether he had any paint on his hands or clothing due to the ensuing investigation.

One of the male juveniles was located later in the day and spoke openly with police during an interview. The juvenile admitted to his involvement while the adult "totally denies any involvement in it," Verburg said.

The second juvenile has yet to be located as of Sunday afternoon, he added.

Verburg "absolutely" anticipates charges will come out of the investigation but it is a long process gathering all the evidence because some of the paint was able to be washed off some of the cars and homes with siding. The homes with wooden exterior will have to be repainted as will some of the cars.

A large apartment complex, Aster Court, on Third Street and High Street, also has hit. It has a wood exterior and won't be easy to clean off the two large tags on the side of the apartment facing Maple Street.

Many of the victims are elderly and living on fixed incomes, which made the crime that more heinous in Verburg's eyes.

"They're all on fixed incomes and it's like 'You've got to be kidding. How are you going to screw people over like this?' ..... I hate to see these people go through this. It really stinks," Verburg said.

While interviewing the juvenile, who is a New London High School student, the boy told the officer he had no reason "whatsoever" why they allegedly did it.

A local car repair shop on Walnut Street, Free Change Auto, that is new in town, helped many of the people get the paint off their cars early in the day, Verburg said.

"Mike Stevens (president of Free Charge Auto) did an excellent job and helped a lot of people out," Verburg said.

The police, having dealing with a similar graffiti rash a few years ago, have been vehement that the department has a zero tolerance for the destruction of the village. "It's a cycle that gets progressively worse if it isn't stopped," Verburg said.

At the time of the last rash of graffiti by the "Social Outcast Crew," tags of the "SOC" were found throughout the town and eventually covered. New London Police Chief Mike Marko echoed Verburg's thoughts about the zero tolerance of the destruction of the small village.

While no charges have been filed yet against the suspects, the investigation into getting quotes on the damages will continue as will the interviews.

As far as the total estimate of damage so far, Verburg said he didn't "even want to hazard a guess."

"I'm just hoping we can obtain a conviction and find everyone that was responsible for this. We can't have someone tearing up the town," Verburg said.

Meanwhile, the adult suspect is no stranger to the law. Last year, he racked up criminal trespassing, criminal damaging and theft charges, according to Verburg.

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