A picnic table like this one costs up to $500 each. Of course, writing a few letters on it, or drawing a Batman symbol on it, isn't going to mean it needs to be replaced, but taxpayers did purchase it.
Saturday, John F. Brown, 56, of Woodcrest Drive, Batavia, was allegedly caught marking on a picnic table like this one at Williams Park. He is charged with criminal tampering, 3rd.
Not the crime of the century, a fact repeatedly noted by readers on The Batavian and on The Batavian's Facebook page.
However, City Manager Jason Molino has raised the issue to City Council several times over the past two years -- the city is facing a costly problem, vandalism in the city's parks. The vandalism is costing taxpayers thousands of dollars a year, Molino said.
"When you say vandalism, it could be broke things, it could be from people defecating on the walls in the bathroom, which they do, or writing on the walls," Molino said. "We pay to clean that up."
Vandals destroyed a $10,000 slide in Austin Park last year. Another took a baseball bat to a water fountain. It's still out of service. Tennis nets and poles have been destroyed, basketball nets ripped down and bathroom fixtures broken.
The vandalism along with other potential criminal activity in the parks has police officers being a little extra vigilant, said Molino.
"Vandalism is one thing, but there are things that happen in parks after dusk, and no one is immune to it in any community," Molino said. "You've got sometimes drug use, vandalism, other things, and the patrols being out, checking on the parks is part of their regular patrols and it is important. Making sure people aren't doing bad things there, whether it's vandalism or something else."
Chief Shawn Heubusch said he's well aware of the heightened concern about vandalism in the parks, but that isn't the only reason officers take some time as part of their regular patrols to check on the parks.
"This is a concern of the city," Heubusch said. "We're dealing with people destroying property. Are there bigger crimes out there we could be pursuing, absolutely there are, but we have to acknowledge and we have to work on all crimes that take place in the city, not just the ones that get headlines, so to speak."
Brown's arrest was the result of an officer, Jason Davis, doing his job and checking on a park, Heubusch said. It just happened to be an allegation of vandalism this time.
"When they're patrolling, that's an officer's job," Heubusch said.. "They're looking for people that are committing crimes. They're looking for people who are breaking the law. They're looking to make a difference, so the officer who observed him doing this was doing his job."
Photo for illustration purposes only. We don't know who the suspect is for this vandalism.