MOORESVILLE, Ind. – Throughout May, teenagers targeted a Mooresville park and vandalized it several times. Police have found the teenagers responsible, who are all middle-school aged.
Mooresville Parks and Recreation District Superintendent Brent Callahan said he and his staff had noticed several mornings that a handful of picnic tables had been destroyed at Pioneer Park. Overall, more than 30 were broken. They also found torn down signs and garbage scattered around the park.
Damages total approximately $4,400 and dozens of man hours to put the park together.
“This is kind of rare for us because we lock the park up each night,” said Callahan, who has been with the parks for more than 30 years. “We have night security.”
What ended the vandalism was a group of Boy Scouts who were sleeping overnight in the park. The campers heard all the noise the teens were creating and called police.
Staff at the Mooresville Police Department said officers captured three teens, and then after showing surveillance photos to parents of some of their friends, a mother verified that her daughter was in one of the pictures.
After an investigation, four male teenagers and one female teenager now face two misdemeanor charges and two status offenses. Detective Donald Kays said a letter has been mailed to their homes notifying them they’ve been banned from the park.
“Those juveniles could be involved in something in their adulthood that would be more serious,” Kays said. “We try to nip it in the bud now while they’re young and make them face some consequences.”
Already this summer, parks in central Indiana have been hit by vandals. Brandywine Park in Greenfield had a softball field destroyed after someone took a stolen SUV on a joyride through a field.
“There’s not a whole lot of places and things to do outside,” said Pioneer Park visitor Shelly Gibson. “If you vandalize the park, where are all the kids and teenagers going to hang out.”
Kalleen Chilcote said she’d like to see more activities at parks that target youth, such as graffiti art walls.
“It’s sad for the community as a whole when something like that gets destroyed or gets ruins,” Chilcote said. “It’s bad for the kids, they need somewhere to go and have a good time.”
Pioneer Park, which sits on 150 acres of land and can average 3,000 to 4,000 visitors on a summer weekend, is expected to see trail and parking renovations in the near future.