Acts of vandalism frustrate Joppa resident

Harford police say problem is countywide

April 27, 2003|By Jennifer Blenner | Jennifer Blenner,SUN STAFF

Adam Spickler of Joppa has had his Chevy Blazer scratched with a key, a tire slashed and a rock thrown at his house.

"I now have to leave on the outside lights to hopefully deter anyone from vandalizing our house," he said. "This used to be a quiet neighborhood."

Sgt. Keith Warner, acting public information officer in the Internal Affairs Office for the Harford County Sheriff's Office, said five calls came from the Joppa area since January: two juvenile complaints, a theft call, a property damage call and a 911 hang-up.

"It is nothing out of the ordinary," he said. "Vandalism happens no matter where you live."

Cpl. Steve Dunlop, community policing officer for the Sheriff's Office, said vandalism occurs throughout the county. "We are trying to increase neighborhood watches throughout the county to make them aware of fraud and theft in their neighborhood," he said.

In the Joppa-Edgewood area, vandalism can range from mailbox destruction to shooting windows, Dunlop said. Typically, vandalism increases when children are on break or finished with the school year.

"We all say it's juveniles, but we catch older kids doing it as well," Warner said.

Spickler lives in a working-class neighborhood of mostly families and retired people near Magnolia Elementary School.

"All the kids are in their houses by 9 p.m.," he said. "It's still quiet, but a lot of vandalism is going on."

For two years, Spickler and his two children lived in the neighborhood without many problems until a about month ago, when one of his tires was slashed. He feels the vandalism stems from the problems in Edgewood spreading into his neighborhood.

A week and a half later, he noticed several marks on his truck, some of them so deep that the metal shows on several panels.

"It is obvious that is intentional," Spickler said.

Next, a rock was thrown at his house.

"The window that was almost hit was to my daughter's room," Spickler said. "Her bed is right next to the window. She could have been seriously injured."

Spickler said he contacted police but that they have offered him little comfort.

"They can't tell us anything," Spickler said. "In fact, they won't file a report, because they don't know who's doing it."

He said, "We've been told to just keep calling, and that they'll patrol the area more, which isn't happening."

In most cases, Warner said officers try to make a report. However, sometimes homeowners don't want a report written but want the complaint number for insurance purposes, Warner said. Even if no report is filed, police still keep the information on file.

"If they call us, we will handle a report," Warner said. "A lot of times, people don't call. They don't want to bother police." Also, he said that with the number of phone calls from the Joppa area, it is virtually impossible to patrol.

Spickler also spoke with his homeowners association president. "We were told to contact the block captain, but he didn't even know he was block captain," Spickler said.

"It makes me angry that few people care about what's going on and that even fewer want to take action," he said.

Other vandalism in the neighborhood included breaking into cars, stealing vehicle wheels, cracking windows and slashing tires, Spickler said. Most of the neighbors have experienced vandalism to their homes and cars, Spickler said.

"We are trying to prevent ourselves and others from being victims of vandalism," he said.

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