What it looks like is people just running into the fence purely to cause property damage. No tire tracks, physically nothing left behind. It pretty much has to be somebody using their body to knock down the fence. —Greg Wilking
SALT LAKE CITY — Ruth has big holes in the vinyl fencing along her property line. But, for now, she says it's not worth fixing.
"We have apparently some teenagers who like to run into the fence and break 'em. They've been back three or four times and just like to bash into the fence. I can hear them when they come. It just seems like they like to run and cause some damage," she said Tuesday. She asked that her last name not be used.
Since November, Salt Lake police have received 10 reports of vinyl fences being damaged. All of the incidents have been on the east side.
Investigators don't know if the same person or group has been involved in each incident. But detective Greg Wilking said the belief is that juveniles are throwing their bodies into the fences and crashing through them.
"What it looks like is people just running into the fence purely to cause property damage," he said. "No tire tracks, physically nothing left behind. It pretty much has to be somebody using their body to knock down the fence."
The incidents tapered off during the winter months.
"They didn't want to be inconvenienced by slipping on any ice when bashing in my fence," quipped Ruth.
But as spring and summer approach, police are warning residents to be on the lookout for a possible increase in such vandalism.
Ruth, who lives off Foothill Boulevard near 1300 South, said vandals have damaged her fence mostly around 11:30 p.m. She replaced a vinyl panel the first time it was damaged. But after several panels were destroyed the second time, she decided to wait until someone is arrested before repairing it, or until those responsible realize "it's not that fun to come and ruin someone else's property."
"It's mostly the worry of, first of all, why do kids have to damage people's property to have fun? And what else might they do? And where do their parents think they are at 11:30 at night? If it were my child doing it, I would be very unhappy. I'm sure that these parents have no idea what their kids are doing," she said.
Ruth said it will cost about $1,000 to replace her fence. Wilking said those responsible face possible class A misdemeanor charges but could be charged with a felony based on the total damage amount.
The vinyl smashing incidents are nearly impossible to prevent, he said.
The best way to stop it, Wilking said, is for parents to be alert to what their kids are saying, and checking social media channels such as Facebook or YouTube. "Very often when people are damaging property like this, they like to brag about it," he said.
Anyone with information can call police at 801-799-3000.