By Derrick Knutson
Someone partook in some end-of-the-summer shenanigans, vandalizing three North Branch Schools Aug. 19.
North Branch Police Chief Dan Meyer said a vehicle drove across a soccer field at Sunrise Elementary, ripping up grass – the same type of vandalism also occurred at the North Branch Area Middle School soccer field. A porta-potty was vandalized at Sunrise as well, and the concession building at the high school was broken into.
Meyer noted no items were reported missing from the concession building.
“(This type of vandalism) is common during the summer,” Meyer said. “We usually see this type of stuff right before school gets out.”
Meyer said the perpetrators of school vandalism are usually juveniles; some of whom likely don’t think what they’re doing is “that big of a deal.”
However, Meyer explained that there are some fairly severe penalties, depending upon how much vandalism occurs and how much it costs to fix.
“If we could tie (all of the instances together) they could be facing pretty substantial criminal damage to property and trespassing charges,” he said.
Fines, sometimes totaling thousands of dollars, and community service can be imposed in vandalism cases if a judge deems the damage severe enough to warrant such penalties.
Finding suspects sometimes difficult
In this case, Meyer said there are currently no suspects, which is too often the case when it comes to vandalism at schools.
He noted schools are sometimes far away from residences, so witnesses aren’t easy to find.
“That’s the whole thing – the remote location they’re doing it in,” Meyer said. “A lot of times this will happen without people knowing until the next morning.”