Vandals strike Downtown

Police investigate a rash of graffiti
By: Melody Stone, Journal staff writer
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A rash of graffiti has spread across Auburn within the last three weeks, upsetting citizens, business owners and law enforcement. Over the last three weekends Placer High School has received an unwanted makeover, and Tuesday morning several Downtown business owners were greeted with yellow paint across their buildings. Graffiti covered the windows of Auburn Outdoor Sports Inc., which read “death to all” with drawings of a star and a pig. Illegible squiggles of what appeared to be letters were scribbled across Depoe Bay Coffee Company and other downtown buildings. William Pryor, owner of Auburn Outdoor Sport Inc., said his building was all cleaned up that morning. Carol Isaacson, co-owner of Depoe Bay, said they also got the markings cleaned up quickly Tuesday morning. “It was really a violation,” Isaacson said. “This town is special. I just feel we need to get people watching.” Pryor echoed Isaacson’s sentiments, and called for a citizens’ watch group to improve security in the Downtown area. “I’m tired of seeing graffiti all over everything,” Pryor said. “I think video cameras would do a world of good.” Pryor wants to see the law enforcement agencies in Placer County work together with citizens to get more eyes and ears on the streets preventing crime. “We need citizens to make a 911 call and take pictures,” Pryor said. “I’ll put money up for rewards to help stimulate the program. There’s no other way to stop this other than working together.” Dan Scharenberg was closing up shop at Rowdy Randy’s gas station on High Street in Auburn where he works as a clerk, when he saw a group of young adults hanging around the pumps. A man, who appeared to be either in his late teens or early 20s, was using a yellow permanent marker to write on the pumps. Scharenberg asked the man what he was doing. Scharenberg said the man responded with, “I’m pissed off and drunk and doing this.” “They’re brave ‘lil suckers,” Scharenberg said. “I didn’t realize they had tagged half the town.” Scharenberg asked the man to come into the building but the man refused, so Scharenberg said he was calling the cops. The group walked up the street toward Elm. Scharenberg said about 25 minutes later the police came. Auburn Police Capt. John Ruffcorn said the officers were on another call at the time and had to prioritize their recourses. "We were on an other incident,” Ruffcorn said. "Whenever something is in progress we try to respond right away. But like anything else, we have to gauge the priority about what's happening and what we're already on." Ruffcorn said the Auburn Police Department is diligently working on the case. "We've had a series of vandalism incidents that have occurred over the last few weeks, which have caused a great deal of concern for the police department and the community,” Ruffcorn said. "It is an ongoing investigation." Gary Pantaleoni, Placer High School vice principal, said he’s working with the Auburn Police to catch the person or people committing these acts of vandalism. Pantaleoni said there are some similarities between the graffiti at the school and the graffiti in Downtown. “We clean it up as rapidly as we can,” Pantaleoni said. “We want to work together to keep this community a nice place to live.” Pantaleoni said when the responsible party is found they will be held monetarily accountable for the property damage. Bruce Cosgrove, Auburn Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer, said about two weeks ago the boxcar and caboose behind the chamber office were power washed and cleaned. Now, the graffiti is back. "It just reappeared even bigger and bolder and stronger than it was before,” Cosgrove said. "It probably has something to do with the weather. All of a sudden we have nice weather — more time to be out creating." Cosgrove said graffiti is a tough issue because in some cases the art is beautiful but the canvas is wrong. "Some of these folks are really creative. It's too bad we can't channel that creativity somewhere else," Cosgrove said.