Vandals threw a rude welcome party for a new neighbor in the Ben Oaks community Tuesday night, smashing the windows of an almost-renovated home with pumpkins and splotching the front of the house with paint.
The 80-foot rancher in the 700 block of Benfield Road has been vacant since 1987, when it was transported from a lot on Route 3. The longtime eyesore was finally cleaned up and landscaped this summer and a pair of renters were poised to move in.
"It's just sickening to think what somebody would do to other people's property," said owner Connie Frazier, reviewing several hacked and uprooted rhododendrons she had planted last month.
"I think it's so ironic that the house sat here for four years and it's never been bothered until it was almost ready to be lived in," she said.
Frazier believes the attack on her house was a pre-Halloween prank by teen-agers.
Police say the vandalism happened sometime between midnight Tuesday, when a neighbor walked past the home while walking a dog, and 11 a.m. yesterday, when an officer on routine patrol noticed the destruction.
"They had to be pretty old to get the paint that high and throw a pumpkin through a wall like that," Frazier said.
One of the three pumpkins flew 15 feet into the house and broke through the drywall at the back of the room.
New brick and stone-work, windows, the front door and a "No Trespassing" sign were scrawled with black spray paint. Woodwork 10 feet above ground level was splashedwith what looked like maroon exterior house paint.
Would-be renter Harriet Helsel said she and her housemate still plan to move in after the home is sandblasted and completed.
The county Department ofInspections and Permits filed a stop-work order on the home Sept. 19because the original construction permit had expired.
Eastern district police have agreed to keep a closer eye on the property. Frazier said she was considering having someone remain on the property lastnight for "prank night," traditionally a time when youngsters play pre-Halloween pranks on neighbors.