The Shepherdstown Police Department has been investigating more reports of vandalism in town within the past several weeks, and officers and town officials believe the upswing in incidents is due in part to warmer weather.
Acting Chief David Ransom reports the vandalism has ranged from graffiti on automobiles, the new Town Hall, Rumsey Monument and structures across town to destruction of town and residential property.
Recently, on April 16, a resident reported seeing a subject posting graffiti on a streeting sign on the corner of South King and East New Street, Ranson said. Officers located and arrested the juvenile subject, who was from Charles Town, based on the resident’s information.
“He is going to be charged in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County through a juvenile petition,” Ransom said.
But he does not believe this incident was related to the almost 10 others that have happened since the beginning of March.
Also, on April 21, graffiti was painted on the fence behind Rumsey Monument. On March 29, graffiti was painted on two sides of the monument and on the platform on the Potomac River side.
Ransom also said that officials are looking into purchasing surveillance cameras for “high-crime areas,” such as Rumsey Park, and he now has officers out on bike patrol in the evenings.
Mayor Jim Auxer said he does not know yet how much the cameras will cost the town, but it is on the finance committee’s agenda for the May 2 meeting.
But the town does know that cleaning the paint off the monument will cost them.
Frank Welch, director of Public Works, said because the Rumsey Monument is made of granite, it needs special treatment in cleaning. He contacted a company who will come in mid-May treat it. Welch said the approximate cost will be $1,000, but it could cost more depending upon how long the cleaning takes.
Auxer and Ransom urge residents to keep a watchful eye on happenings across town.
“We need their help to report vandalism as soon as possible,” Auxer said. “We need to help each other here it’s expensive and people’s property is being destroyed.”
Ransom said to report an incident, call 304-725-8484 or email .
The Shepherdstown Police Department is in the process of hiring two officers and a police chief. Acting Police Chief David Ransom said the first round of interviews for one officer were this past week, and they hope to fill the police chief position by mid-May, at which point they will fill the second officer position.
Ransom said to better patrol the town with just two officers and himself, he has adjusted the shift schedule as well as received word from Shepherd University and county law enforcement that they will help out.
“We have the same coverage just with less people,” he said.
Mayor Jim Auxer said he hopes to fill the first officer vacancy by next week.