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Speedy graffiti removal difficult when many sites hit

May 27, 2009

Three Milwaukee County parks that fall within Wauwatosa's borders were the sites of break-ins and vandalism in the past week.

On May 19, three men in their early 20s were arrested for trespassing after they were found skateboarding in the wading pool at Hoyt Park, 1800 Swan Blvd.

According to a Wauwatosa Police Department report, They ran and hid in a changing area in the pool house when squad cars arrived. They said they had been filming their skateboarding, but knew they should not have been there.

The wading pool was the site of problems at Jacobus Park, 6501 Hillside Lane, prior to 8 a.m. May 25. A smiley face and the letters "TRE" and "PNA" were spray-painted on several sides of the building next to the pool, according to police. Damage is estimated at $500.

County Parks Director Sue Black said crime is a drain on budgets and resources. Staff members try to adhere to a 24-hour graffiti removal policy, but with numerous sites being vandalized it becomes difficult to stay on top of the mess.

"It doesn't make any sense to me that these people don't respect the public domain," she said.

The greatest damage - $1,500 in vandalism - was caused to buildings at Hansen Golf Course, 9800 Underwood Parkway, between 8:30 p.m. May 21 and 7 a.m. May 22.

The golf clubhouse was broken into and $1,200 in food and merchandise was taken. A worker's shed also was entered and an "A" in a circle was spray-painted on the refrigerator. The same symbol also was spray-painted on the concrete slabs surrounding the creek.

The clubhouse had been burglarized a few days earlier with more than $600 in items taken. The same window was broken to gain entry in both incidents, leaving parks staff to consider this a repeat offense.

Between the two burglaries, the clubhouse lost 60 golf balls, 120 cans and 80 beer bottles, 90 snacks, 110 candy bars, 20 power drinks and 19 pairs of golf gloves.

Black said she hopes to see a reduction in crime now that the summer season has begun. The county sheriff's office deploys more than 35 officers into parks, and she is hiring park rangers to keep an eye on park activities. In addition, criminals are generally deterred when they see parks populated.

"A busy park is a safer park," she said.

- Stefanie Scott,

Staff Writer

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