Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Two Teenage Punks Arrested For Vandalizing 62 Trees At Galena Hills Park In Draper, Utah; May Be Charged With Felonies

On August 11th, 2009, Draper police have identified and arrested two teenage boys they believe are responsible for trashing 62 trees in a park and have sent their information to prosecutors to consider formal charges. The teens, who remained unidentified, are a 17-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy (two media sources identify the second accused perp as 16, so I'm going with that number); one lives in Sandy, the other in Draper. KSL reports a third teen is under investigation and may also be picked up. Stories published by the Deseret News, the Salt Lake Tribune, KSTU Channel 13, and KSL Channel 5.

"We're confident we've identified the individuals responsible," Draper Police Sgt. Gerry Allred said. "It doesn't appear like it was politically motivated or was any specific acting out toward Draper city or the park or anything like that. It appears that it was a random act."

The incident took place around 2:30 A.M. on July 17th, when the accused pair allegedly broke a reported 62 one-year-old, 12-foot-tall trees at Galena Hills Park. Police viewed video surveillance at the park near 550 West and 12400 South to try to determine who broke the trees, and they eventually identified the teens with help from public tips. Officials believe one of the teens would bend one of the thin trees down toward the ground while the other jumped on the trunk, snapping the tree. The park's sprinkler system was also vandalized at the same time. Damage to the trees and the park's sprinkler system were estimated to be more than $30,000.

KSL also reported on July 17th that police say someone broke into several cars in the neighborhood during the same night, but they don't have evidence tieing the vandals to that crime as well.

KSTU Channel 13 news video embedded below:


The city of Draper has referred the case to the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office and are asking the DA to charge two teens with felony criminal mischief. Alicia Cook, spokeswoman for the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office, confirmed that felony charges are possible.

While the identity of the perpetrators officially remains in doubt, their desired disposition is beyond debate. The sheer magnitude of the destruction warrants a severe response. At least one year's jail time would be appropriate, as well as community service and personal payment of restitution. In addition, if it's at all possible, hang a felony collar around their necks as an object lesson to other teenagers that vandalism can have serious consequences. When you snap 62 trees like twigs, you deserve a felony collar.

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