|Messenger photos by Andrea Cordle|
Vandals have targeted Henceroth Park in Grove City. This was painted inside playground equipment meant for young children.
|Vandals scrawled "Imma rape you" under the playground slide.|
Ben Williams lives in the Meadow Grove subdivision with two children, ages 3 and 4. He takes his children to Henceroth Park at least once a week. He was not prepared for what he recently saw at the park.
Williams saw profanity painted all over the playground equipment, along with drawings of various parts of the human anatomy.
"I can’t tell you how sad and angry I was when my 4-year-old son repeated the letters in the ‘F’ word that were written on his favorite pirate ship, along with many other vile images," said Williams.
Inside the playground equipment, meant for small children, were sayings such as "Imma rape you" and "Imma bite you."
Williams called the Grove City Division of Police and reported the vandalism.
"This just seems like such a tragedy," said Williams, "because this is such a great neighborhood."
Captain Steven Robinette, from Grove City police, said there are no suspects at this time, but they do have a detective looking into the case and following up on leads.
Robinette said in this case, the vandalism is a misdemeanor of the third degree. It can carry a maximum jail sentence of 60 days and/or a fine of $500.
"We work with the city and private individuals who are victims to get the tagging painted over as quickly as possible," said the captain. "We have found that leaving it plants a seed in the minds of others to add theirs."
Robinette also said some people spray paint to display their art work.
"If they are doing it as art and it gets painted over, no one sees it and it is not as rewarding."
Kim Conrad, director of Grove City Parks and Recreation, said the maintenance staff also removes graffiti from playground equipment. They budget this as part of the overall park maintenance cost.
Conrad said the city will not have to replace any equipment at Henceroth Park. She also said the department’s staff conduct weekly checks on playground equipment to make sure it is safe and operational.
"That is when most vandalism is discovered," said Conrad. "We work with the Grove City police on issues of vandalism."
Williams believes area teenagers are responsible for the vandalism.
"They hang out there after dark," said Williams.
Williams said he finds empty beer cans around the park property and suspects drug use, too.
Robinette said the public can help. He advises residents to call the police as soon as possible if they see anyone vandalizing public property or acting suspicious.
Robinette also said, "If you are a victim, paint over the tagging as soon as possible after you have reported it to the police."
The captain said the graffiti does not appear to be gang related.
Williams is hoping parents will watch the park and look for suspicious activity.
"This (Henceroth Park) is a great place for kids 10 and under," said Williams. "You want to see kids running around and having fun at the park. This kind of stuff can leave a childhood tainted."
To report a crime to the Grove City Division of Police, call 277-1710.