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Sharpsburg is plagued by vandals

November 10, 2006|by TARA REILLY

SHARPSBURG - Sharpsburg resident Rudolph DeLauney said the side of his house has been damaged by skateboarders, and teenagers who hang out in a bank parking lot next door often are loud, rowdy and yell at adults.

Jefferson Security Bank has put up a "No loitering" sign to keep the kids out, but bank officials claim they aren't heeding the warning.

Other residents say the activity goes beyond loitering. They say a gang of kids has been vandalizing private and public property and smashing car windows.

Residents are asking for help from the Town Council and police to resolve the problem.

"I see it all the time, and it's ridiculous," town resident Mike Pasquerette said.

Pasquerette and other residents spoke about the vandalism Monday at a Town Council meeting.

He said Monday between 3 and 7 a.m., someone broke windows and put stone barricades across an alley.

Council members acknowledged there was a problem and discussed the idea of hiring a plainclothes police officer to help curb it.

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They said they wanted to talk about that more in closed session.

"I really think it's come to the point when we got to do that," Councilman Jeffrey Saylor said at the meeting.

He said the Main Street area of town was a target for vandals Sunday night, Saylor said.

Another time, vandals shot out windows and smashed pumpkins, Councilwoman Patti Hammond said.

Two residents at the meeting said they have had windows in their vehicles broken.

DeLauney, who lives on North Mechanic Street, said residents are afraid of the group that hangs out in the bank parking lot because some have used obscenities and yelled at people.

The teenagers start showing up in the early evening and hang out there sometimes past midnight.

The bank is on the square, but the parking lot is on North Mechanic Street next to DeLauney's house.

Bank employees said the kids smashed pumpkins put out by the bank in October, an act that was caught on camera.

Wanda Bonfili, office manager of Jefferson Security Bank, said the loitering is frequent, but it's hard to stop after hours.

"We've got our signs up, but it's not solving the problem," Bonfili said.

Pasquerette criticized the town's existing police coverage by the Washington County Sheriff's Department. He said "it's like pulling teeth" to get the police to respond to calls in Sharpsburg.

"They're very rarely here," Pasquerette said.

Lt. Mark Knight of the Sheriff's Department said one deputy is assigned to the Sharpsburg and Keedysville area, which can make enforcement difficult.

"He's only one guy," Knight said. "That guy can't be everywhere."

Knight suggested that residents keep a close eye on crime, write down vehicle tag numbers and descriptions, or submit other evidence about the offenders. As of now, police have no suspects in the Sharpsburg incidents, he said.

"When you don't have any suspects, it's kind of hard to track someone down," Knight said.

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