Helena rates of vandalism rise during the summer

Published 6:17 pm Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vandalism rates go up noticeably during the summer in Helena, said Helena police Detective Chris Rollan.

“I think it’s children having too much time on their hands,” he said.

Rollan said he sees all kinds of vandalism, ranging from fire extinguishers being set off to graffiti on park sidewalks and equipment. Vandalism in city parks usually happens at night, after the 10 p.m. closing time for all city parks.

If someone is caught vandalizing a city park, they are identified and that information is kept for future reference, he said.

“The reason we identify them is if something in the future comes up, we kind of know who to start with,” he said.

To cut down on vandalism, the Helena Police Department assigns officers to check the parks during their nightly rounds. Parks are sometimes checked more often, especially if the department has received calls about them.

The penalties for vandalism depend on the damage done to the property.

Rollan said the department can usually find those who practice vandalism.

“They always love to brag about what they’ve done,” he said. “We will follow it up, just like we do burglary and any other thing.”

He said vandalism affects the city and its youth dramatically.

“The parks are for the children. They’re not necessarily for teenagers, they are for children,” Rollan said. “And that may be the only thing a child has to look forward to, is to go to the park and play. And they can’t do that if the stuff is damaged.”