Many homes could use a little new paint, but the new paint provided by a local vandal or vandals was considerably less than desirable for some Ocean View-area property owners.
In fact, it was a crime.
Three recent incidents of graffiti have recently been reported to Ocean View and Delaware State police, along with a case of vandalism. One episode of graffiti occurred on Calgary Avenue, sometime after Jan. 2, 2005, and was reported to Ocean View police on Jan. 16.
“Unknown individuals spray-painted the rear of the residence,” said Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin said of the incident.
McLaughlin said the department was aware of at least two other incidents in the same immediate area.
“We had one of the incidents that was within town limits, and there were two more that the State Police handled,” he said.
Evidence of the graffiti afflicting Shady Dell Park (just outside Ocean View town limits) still remained some time later, with the front façade and one window of a trailer home on Hickory Street displaying a “tagging” style pattern in bright orange and green spray-paint.
According to Cpl. Jeff Oldham, public information officer for the Delaware State Police, that damage was part of a rash of graffiti reported to police Jan. 7. The green and orange spray-paint marks were found on various properties within Shady Dell in the area surrounding Hemlock Street, he said.
A real-estate sign, the side of a residence and a pontoon boat all got a coat of unwanted color sometime between Dec. 24, 2005, and Jan. 7, according to police reports. Oldham said the crimes were connected by the paint — green and orange in each case. In the Jan. 7 case, the initials “JD” were also spotted on one of the pieces of property, along with a dollar sign.
It was again the orange and green spray-paint when vandals hit Parkerhouse Road in Shady Dell Park in an incident reported to police Jan. 16.
“Suspects spray-painted the sign for the development,” Oldham said of that case. The same paint and the same dollar-sign lead police to think the two incidents are very likely connected, he noted. The Jan. 16 incident also left behind a star symbol and a third symbol Oldham said could not be identified.
Less clearly connected to the three graffiti incidents was vandalism to the sign-illuminating lights for the Providence community near Ocean View. The damage to the lights, located on Muddy Neck Road, was also reported Jan. 16. The possible time span for the crime is narrower, however, having been pinpointed to between Friday, Jan. 14, and Monday, Jan. 16, when the report was filed.
The lack of spray-paint in the Muddy Neck Road incident does leave some question as to whether that third case of vandalism in a narrow time period and small physical area are necessarily connected, Oldham said. But a connection cannot be ruled out. And the Ocean View graffiti case is being treated as likely related to the two just outside the town’s borders.
McLaughlin said, “I’m sure they’re related. We’re assuming it has to be.”
Ocean View police have identified no suspects in the Calgary Avenue case; but McLaughlin said that, based on previous graffiti cases in the area, he suspects the perpetrators are teenagers.
“There was an incident last summer, in which we worked with the State Police. It turned out to be a couple of young teenage kids,” he said, noting that both suspects had since relocated outside Delaware.
McLaughlin said that in most such cases, someone comes forward and leads police to suspects. “Hopefully, somebody will come forward and give us some information in this case,” he said.
While the State Police have not identified suspects in their cases, Oldham concurred about the typical perpetrators in graffiti cases in the area, as well as the path of information for police.
“Usually, in these types of situations, it is teenagers,” he said. “And usually it’s a friend or family member who gives the information to police.”
Oldham asked that anyone with information on the incidents contact Delaware State Police Troop 4 at (302) 856-5850.
He noted that police would be continuing their normal patrol activities in the area but would be on the lookout for any suspicious activity that might lead them to the perpetrators.