Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 34
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
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Police Looking for Leads as Graffiti Vandals Attack Princeton Parks, Walls, Tennis Courts

Ellen Gilbert

An outbreak of graffiti vandalism, in several instances featuring identical or similar markings, has taken place in Princeton this summer.

“It’s helpful when they use the same tags; we can make links from one spot to others,” noted Princeton Township Detective Annette Henderson, who said that the graffiti has occurred largely in the area’s parks, and includes both vulgar words and drawings. A retaining wall and driveway at the Mountain Lakes nature preserve, as well as both men’s and women’s bathrooms at Community Park North, were among the first vandalized sites.

Similar hands appeared to be at work on July 6 and 7 at the Community Park South tennis court wall, nearby portable bathroom, shed roof, and the tailgate of a Princeton Recreation Department dump truck. Mountain Lakes was targeted again, along with Pettorranello Gardens, between July 8 and 14, with words and drawings similar to those found earlier. 

Spray-painted graffiti on a Community Park South tennis court wall closely resembled the writing and drawings found at the backstop of that area’s softball field and bike path, as well as the markings found on a nearby trash container and recycling bucket.

Further afield and different in appearance, both old and more recent graffiti was reported on the support beams of a Province Line Road bridge and road surface.

A “happy/sad face” found on July 20 among spray-painted graffiti on a Community Park North footbridge was, according to Detective Henderson, “probably gang-related.” 

“The tennis wall is really sad because it was cleaned in the spring,” said Recreation Department Executive Director Jack Roberts. Cleaning it entailed sand-blasting and painting to the tune of $2,000. “We want to find whoever did this,” said Mr. Roberts. “We’re going to take them to court and they’re going to pay for it.”

Detective Henderson said that at this time the police had no leads on the case, which is being investigated by Detective Benjamin Gering. Detective Henderson encouraged anyone with any information — including the location of discarded spray cans — to call the Police Department’s dispatch number at (609) 921-2100, or its 24-hour confidential tip-line, (609) 688-2049. “We’ve had parents turn their kids in when they realize what they’re doing,” she commented.

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