Alpena police are working to stop local disfigurers and catch recent criminals |  News, sports, work
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Alpena police are working to stop local disfigurers and catch recent criminals | News, sports, work

News Photo: Steve Schulwitz A group of teenage boys play basketball on the new basketball courts near the Alpena skate park. Due to the recent act of vandalism, the new courts have a special surface and new backboards and hoops.

ALPENA — Acts of vandalism and theft occasionally occur in Alpena, but the use of technology has made it easier for police to locate those committing crimes.

From painting graffiti on local buildings and infrastructure to destroying private and public property, vandals most often cause damage for no particular reason.

In a community like Alpena, vandalism is costly and forces police to divert from investigating more serious crimes to solving what may be misdemeanor crimes.

There have been several headline-grabbing acts of vandalism in Alpena over the past few weeks: the destruction of new basketball courts near the skate park and one of the elaborate flower displays outside the Sanctuary Cinema during the Flower Festival last weekend.

The damage to the basketball court occurred in mid-May and has already been repaired and the damaged equipment replaced.

Courtesy photo A screenshot from surveillance footage shows two women stealing a flower display on Sunday morning. Alpena police are looking for the women and are asking the public for help identifying them.

As for the flower exhibition, police have released a photo of two women who were caught on video stealing a display from the theater and are asking the public for help in identifying them.

Alpena Police Chief Eric Hamp said police are investigating damage to the basketball courts and the destruction and theft of a flower. He said the most common vandalism in Alpena involves graffiti or minor damage, but major damage also occurs from time to time.

Hamp said he doesn’t believe there will be an increase in vandalism, but police will be keeping a close eye on suspicious behavior and new spots of vandalism.

“Unfortunately it’s not uncommon, but at this point I don’t think we’re going to see a wave of vandalism,” Hamp said. “It’s unfortunate when this happens, but it happens. But we are not overrun with vandalism throughout the city.”

Hamp said a person who commits an act of vandalism should plan to locate and then possibly arrest and charge them with crimes such as destruction of property and possibly theft in the event of theft, as is the case with floral decorations. He said that with the development of new security systems, it is difficult for someone to destroy something and get away with it.

“We’re getting to the point where they’re increasingly being captured on camera, and video evidence is obviously very helpful in prosecuting and identifying suspects,” he said. “Now there are doorbells with security cameras and people can protect their businesses and homes in many ways, so it’s hard to avoid it.”

Theater owner Jeff Konczak said millions of dollars are being invested in Alpena to help it grow and create a community that residents are proud of and visitors want to return. He said crimes such as vandalism and theft can give a community a black eye and make people think twice about spending money on future developments and events.

“It’s just stupid,” he said.

Hamp said Alpena police patrol 24 hours a day and officers are always on the lookout for suspicious behavior. In a city the size of Alpena, police rely on tips and reports from residents to keep track of them, he said.

“If you see anything unusual or inappropriate, call me,” he said. “The school no longer exists, there are more people in the city, and the more people there are, the more likely it is that something will happen. People should also remember to lock their cars and homes. They should take reasonable steps to protect themselves and their property.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter

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