Young Boys Vandalize City Park
By: Arnold Wyrick
WEST FRANKFORT, Ill. - It's being called one of the worst acts of vandalism in West Frankfort's history and it all happened over the Labor Day weekend. That's when police say they caught two boys younger than 12 years old damaging the restrooms in Frankfort Community Park.
"On Labor Day one of the park employees noticed something suspicious, some kids' bikes were parked by one of the bathrooms. We investigated further and caught them in the act of committing the vandalism inside the bathrooms. They were busting the sinks, urinals and toilets, ripping out the plumbing and breaking out the fluorescent lights," said West Frankfort's Assistant Police Chief Jeff Tharp.
According to the park superintendent the boys started destroying things in the park long before then.
"On Friday they busted out all the lights in one of the bathrooms and one of our shelters," said Leon Sailliez.
His workers cleaned up that mess and replaced all the bulbs, but Sailliez says the same thing happened on Saturday and Sunday night.
"I got a phone call from one of my guys telling me that the vandals had struck again. And that's when I came down to the park and found the lights all tore out and broken, the stools stopped up and a urinal knocked off the wall," Sailliez said.
"So I shut off the water and power to that bathroom. And we had hundreds of people in the park that day for family gatherings, and baseball games. So that really caused us a lot of problems and hours of extra work trying to keep up with replacing lights and cleaning things up when we should of been emptying trash and getting things ready for folks to enjoy the park," he said.
The two young boys who police caught red-handed have cost the town plenty of money in damages.
"We estimate probably at least $3,000 over the weekend. We went through 75 four-foot long fluorescent bulbs. And we haven't even replaced all the ones they broke out in the bathrooms around the park. So now once we get this all repaired, the bathrooms are going to be locked up," Sailliez said.
And police say they're not done looking for other people who may have also had a hand in the destructive act.
"We're going to step up patrols and add some foot patrols which is going to take some of our patrols off the streets at times. But, we do expect to make some more arrests before our investigation is complete," Assistant Chief Tharp said.