Vandalism On The Increase In Payson

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Vandalism and criminal damage in Payson has increased by more than 40 percent in the past year.

According to statistics from the Payson Police Department, criminal damage cases increased to 433 for the first 11-and-a-half months of 2006, from 287 in 2005.

Payson Police Commander Don Engler said one of the reasons for the increase stems from one juvenile who was responsible for 90 percent of the vandalism that occurred in Payson.

However, he added, that after this arrest, criminal damage and vandalism has started to increase again.

Engler said, he believes teenagers or young adults are committing most of these crimes.

Most of the criminal damage being committed, the police commander said, is either graffiti or vandalism.

While one person was responsible for most of the criminal damage several months ago, he thinks the town now has a few groups that are committing these crimes.

"Graffiti started to subside, but we are starting to see it increase," Engler said.

Residents have started to see the increase in criminal damage as well.

Catherine Moyer pointed to a friend of hers who had an ornament stolen out of the front yard Saturday night.

The ornament, which was a Kachina doll that was about six-feet tall, was broken off at the legs from the base.

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This Kachina doll used to stand in the front yard of Susie and Harry Jones.

"That is the one that is upsetting the neighbors," she said. "It was a landmark here."

Moyer said there are other types of vandalism that are occurring in her neighborhood as well.

She said a home that was under construction, but had not been enclosed yet, was hit by paintballs on two different nights.

"It just makes you a little concerned," she said.

Susie Jones along with her husband, Harry, were the owners of the Kachina doll that was uprooted from their property.

She said it was a landmark in the community and residents often gave visitors directions by mentioning it.

"All the neighbors are up in arms because it is missing," she said, adding that the base was cemented into the ground.

Harry Jones was leaving late for a Sunday morning meeting when he saw the remaining part of the doll, and told his wife she needed to call the police.

He said there has recently been a lot of vandalism in the neighborhood.

"It makes me mad," his wife said, adding that someone tried to steal the yard ornament a few years ago, but failed.

Engler said that the police department needs help from the public on solving these types of crimes.

The Payson Police Department can be contacted at 474-5177.

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