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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Victim of Vandalism

Who, you might ask, am I talking about in the title of my blog?  Myself, unfortunately.  For the most part, the area where I live is quaint, quiet, and nice.  There is one street about a block away that harbors a good amount drug issues, but any issues that arise rarely spill out of its little enclave.  There is rarely any violence in our whole town and theft doesn't seem to be a big factor either.  Vandalism, however, has been an issue this past summer with whatever punks are running around thinking its fun to destroy people's property. (7 above ground pools have been slashed)  What makes it even more surprising to me is that we live on a fairly busy street that people use as a cut through to the heavily trafficked main street that runs through town.  On top of that, I have been the only victim on our street that I know of.  This past Thursday night was not the first time my van was vandalized, but it was by far the worst.  The first time it happened was probably about a month and a half ago.  That first time it was merely a drive by egging on the back of my van.  It wasn't a big deal as I noticed it first thing in the morning and was able to wash it off before it did any damage.  On top of that, my van needed a good wash down so I didn't really mind to much.  This past week, however, was a different story as the punks walking around in the wee hours of the morning decided to use grey spray paint and cover one whole side of my van with crude and obnoxious words.  I won't repeat the words here, but suffice it to say that any well raised boy would be pummeled if he ever uttered these derogatory words to his mother.  Needless to say, I was livid when I found out.  Even worse, my wife was taking my van to work on Friday as I was leaving early with our son in our car for Vermont. 

So Friday morning, amidst my pacing, venting, a scheming, I called the police, filed a report, and got told that they would keep an eye out.  Beyond that, they couldn't do very much, which is understandable.  Unfortunately, that didn't quite satiate my immediate desire for revenge.  I won't lie, I was promising all sorts of bodily harm to the punks if I found them.  The first idea that popped into my head for revenge (if I caught them in the act again) was to bring out my sledge hammer and break their kneecaps on the pavement.  By doing this, I figured that it would pretty much prevent them from ever running around with a can of spray paint again.  Think about it, how many punks do you see vandalizing things on crutches.  It is just not an optimal way to go about vandalizing things if you want a chance at getting away.  While that desire to break knee caps has diminished greatly, it has not entirely disappeared yet.  After calming down for a few days, I began to think more practically about the situation and a more rational reaction if I caught them again.  Despite the struggle I would fight within myself to not grab the eight pound sledge hammer, I decided that a more measured response if I caught the punks would be to give them an option.  That option would be, clean this off now and go home or I would call the police and have them arrested (and possibly break a knee cap or two).  I figure that by giving them an option to clean their vandalism or get arrested, it might have a longer term impact than just breaking knee caps.  I started actually empathizing with the perpetrators and thinking about what brought them to the point where they felt the need to run around and destroy people's property.  What is their home life like if this is what they resort to for fun?  I also thought that just calling the police wouldn't really make an impact.  Chances are, if the police were called and they were arrested, the cycle of vandalism would merely get put on hold and the anger within them would not dissipate.  However, if they actually got the option to clean their mess and go home instead of sitting in a holding pen overnight, they might actually change.  It still might not make a difference, but at least I wouldn't feel horrible for simply breaking their knees. 

But that is neither here nor there.  The incident is over for now and hopefully it won't happen again.  The only change I have made so far at the house is to move my van from the end of the driveway to the front where it is less likely they will attack it (it is a big blank white canvas after all).  I had thought about getting one of those infra red, motion sensor cameras, but I probably won't do that because it will just make me more paranoid.  For now, we will just leave things as they are and hope that something like this doesn't happen again.  The part of this whole story that made me change my mind about how I would react if I caught these wily punks in the act was what happened when my wife drove the van to work, which happens to be a high school in Woodbridge.  Obviously as she drove in, everyone saw the side of the van and stood aghast as she drove by.  Within minutes, it was all over twitter and essentially the whole school knew.  After a while, a few of the teachers and administrators told her to bring it over to the auto shop in the school and see if they could clean it off.  Well, about 4 or 5 high school kids brought out brake cleaner and scrubbed the side of my van till the spray paint was gone.  I was utterly surprised when my wife drove into our campsite in Vermont and the van was clean.  I was preparing myself to wake up early Saturday morning and start scrubbing the van with a different cleaner that probably would have ruined the finish.  So in addition to having my van cleaned, I now know how to get spray paint off of a vehicle.  So despite the frustration and anger that I had as the incident occurred, I now am overly grateful to the kids at Amity High School who cleaned my van for me.  So I will buy a few cans of brake cleaner for them and thank them profusely .  For now, the incident is behind me and I am only hoping that it doesn't happen again. 

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