Juveniles suspected in rash of area vandalism cases
By By Robbie Byrd, News Editor
Atmore police believe juveniles may be the culprits in a series of vandalism incidents that has occurred in recent weeks.
Between April 3 to April 7, 10 such incidents were reported to the Atmore Police Department, including four acts of criminal mischief against local businesses and six against vehicles parked in the area.
All of the reports list broken glass as the only damage.
Chuck Brooks, an investigator with the APD, says his office believes the incidents are related.
"We feel that all of these incidents are tied together," Brooks said.
Chris Kirk, owner of Kirk Insurance which was struck by this wave of vandalism, also believes the incidents to be related.
"With it all happening in the same time frame and all within roughly the same area, I would say they're probably connected," Kirk said.
Earl Bryant, owner of Tri-Co Electric on Tatom Street, said he is afraid to replace the two five-by-nine inch windows and panes in his thermal glass door that were broken this and last week.
"I'm getting a little tired of it," Bryant said. "What concerns me most is that if I replace them, how long will they last? I'm apt to replace them again."
Bryant said he estimates the damage to his building in all three combined incidents to be about $1,000.
Kirk expressed his hesitation to repair the damage as well.
"I'm scared to put up any new windows until I know they have been caught," Kirk said. "It interrupts business and it's irritating."
Kirk estimates his loss at roughly $500-$600.
Bryant said that this is a first for his business.
"I've been here since 93 and I've never even had any problems up to this point," Bryant said. "It has always been a quiet neighborhood.
"It will take around a $1,000 to replace the windows, and I just know my insurance company is going to raise my premiums," Bryant said.
Brooks said his office has some leads, and is taking this case seriously.
"We've questioned several juveniles about it," Brooks said. "We have heard reports that some have been talking and bragging about it."
Kirk suspects juveniles are behind these incidents.
"I think maybe they are little kids on bikes or teenagers in cars," Kirk said. "It looks like to me they're using a BB gun. I noticed that around my doors and windows where I have metal siding there are little dents where they missed (the windows)."
"My business and Earl's (Tri-Co Electric) are in a secluded area, especially at night," Kirk said. "It will be hard to catch them. But if they're going to be repeat offenders, they're going to get caught."
Bryant is not as optimistic as Kirk the vandals will be caught.
"I don't know what they need to do. It would take a miracle to catch whoever is doing this," Bryant said. "I don't have a clue where they would even start, unless they caught them red-handed."
Most of the incidents are reported as criminal mischief, third degree, a class C misdemeanor. According to Brooks, these charges can carry up to a $500 fine, plus restitution to the victim, a $75 court cost and up to six months jail time.
Brooks reports that no arrests have been made at this time, but he said the investigation is continuing.
"We urge anybody that observes any suspicious person or several people together, especially if they have firearms, to please call us," Brooks said.
Anyone with any information regarding any of these cases is asked to call the APD at 368-9141. Information will be kept confidential.