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Vandals uproot trees

December 30, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown Police Department is offering a $250 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the young people who pulled out more than 20 trees last week at the Park Valley Road Tributary.

The tributary runs to the rear of the City Light Substation behind the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex off Security Road.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said an investigation of the crime should wrap up later this week.

"In all my years, I've never been able to get a satisfactory answer why they do this," Smith said. "I've seen so many senseless cases of vandalism."

Hagerstown Parks and Recreation Director Junior Mason said the vandalism occurred Christmas Eve and again Friday, when a group of children pulled out more than 20 trees that were planted last month. The trees ranged in height from 1 to 6 feet and included dogwoods, sycamores and red maples, he said.

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The total cost of the trees is estimated at $300, Mason said. They were paid for with money from the Sewer Department's budget for environmental projects.

"We planted numerous trees there in the last month or two," Mason said. "Unfortunately, some kids came around during the holidays and pulled them out."

Mason said most of the trees were left on the spot by the vandals and later replanted by city employees.

"We won't know until the spring whether they'll survive," Mason said.

The juveniles fled after walkers yelled at them, Mason said. Police were called and a report was filed.

Mason said that in an effort to deter future vandalism, the Police and Parks departments are stepping up patrols in the area. In addition, neighbors have agreed to be more vigilant, he said.

Three of the culprits were described as 15-year-old white males, according to a press release from the Hagerstown Police Department. One of the boys is tall with dark, curly hair; another was wearing a black-and-white checkered jacket; and a third was wearing a bright-colored jacket, the release said.

Smith said the boys, if caught, likely would go through the juvenile court system.

"Even though they're juveniles, they'll suffer some serious repercussions," Smith said. "They undid some of the city's beautification efforts."

Smith said the parents could be sued by the city to recoup the cost of the damages.

Anyone with information may call 301-790-3700.

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