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Community : Top Stories Last Updated: Jul 23, 2014 - 9:59:33 AM

Island vandalism not pervasive, but up from prior year
By Jennifer Johnston
Jul 23, 2014 - 9:58:02 AM

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Summertime offers a wonderful sense of freedom, particularly for kids and teens. The downside is that discretionary time sometimes leads to boredom, which in turn can breed bad behavior. Such is the case with the seasonal uptick in vandalism on Daniel Island.
From broken-out lights to graffiti to shenanigans at the community pools, damage to property on the island ranges from relatively benign to quite costly. But the bottom line is that it is all senseless, and frustrating to those who are impacted.
In terms of vandalism to property for which the Daniel Island Property Owners’ Association has oversight, POA Maintenance Manager Larry Whetsell maintains he sees very little. “Most of what we get is juvenile in nature,” states Whetsell, pointing to that trend of incidents at the hands of students on summer break. He says that minor fixes, such as for graffiti or broken park chairs (likely a product of “rough-housing”) are taken care of by the POA. “We do get a broken glass from a lantern occasionally. Furniture at our pools may get put in the water,” Whetsell shares. “Most of the time we can correct the situation in a short time.”
Whetsell explains that the City of Charleston is called for property under its jurisdiction, and says that the worst infractions of that kind are the lights along the riverwalk. As soon as the POA is notified of a broken light - which Whetsell says happens at least once a month - they report it to the City. Fortunately, the City responds expeditiously, but these repairs have a history of being fairly expensive.
“About three years ago, we had our ground lighting on River Landing vandalized,” Whetsell recalls. “It was around $2,500 to repair, and that has been the largest. We installed cameras at the pools and boat landings, and they are a deterrent.”
 Whetsell acknowledges that it’s not always clear if disrepair is a result of vandalism or more organic depreciation. For example, the arm that controls access to the boat slips are manipulated by the watercraft owners themselves. The POA had to replace the unit at Beresford Creek this summer, but it was about eight years old so it is conceivable that age was the cause of the failure.
Homeowner vandalism incidents and cases related to public property are both typically reported to law enforcement. Daniel Island Police Team 5’s Lieutenant Katrina Rivers says that her office does not receive calls about vandalism more than once a month, and that most of the time it is “minor mischief.” She does acknowledge an increase in incidents from this time last year (see sidebar), but observes that more cases this year appear to be intentionally directed versus arbitrary.
“Based on the cases so far this year, I guess overall the vandalism is up,” states Lt. Rivers. “However, there are several cases this year probably involving acquaintances. It’s odd to have one random vehicle keyed. That is probably someone that knew the owner. Same for sugar in the tank and just one vehicle with all tires slashed.” A fountain in Daniel Island Park was damaged last week, but it was determined to be a vehicular accident.
As for the consequences of vandalism, Lt. Rivers tells us it varies by value of the property affected, as well as age of the perpetrator. The fine is $2,130 for damaging property valued at less than $2,000, while that valued over $2,000 sends the offender to General Sessions Court and punishment is up to the judge. Juvenile offenders would go to Family Court and their punishments would be determined therein.
Destruction of property - public or private – is pointless, pricey, and visually painful. But Whetsell feels that, all things considered, Daniel Island does not suffer an abundance of it, suggesting, “In a community our size, I feel that we are below the count for vandalism.” With a sense of pride, and an effort to instill the same in our community’s kids, we should stay on track to keep it that way.
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