NORTHERN UTAH (ABC4 News) – Dozens of homeowners across Northern Utah are falling victim to vinyl fence vandalism, something police believe may be a new trend among teens in the area.
Summer and Zack Patterson, of Harrisville, were the latest targets who caught the incident on camera. After coming home from a night of fireworks Wednesday, they said they heard a loud thud outside.
“We heard kind of like a crash. So we looked at each other and said, ‘That definitely wasn’t fireworks.’ So we ran out to the deck and saw a car driving off and heard laughing. I thought they had to have hit something so I ran out to the front and saw that the panels behind us had been knocked out,” said Summer. “We have three big dogs in the backyard. Fortunate for us at the time that they were inside or else, they could’ve ran off.”
The Pattersons came out to a broken panel in their vinyl fence, which luckily was easy for Zack to fix on his own. They reviewed their home surveillance footage and saw a young man peeking over their fence around 11:30 p.m., backing up to get a running start, and then body slamming into their fence.
“I don’t understand why…? What’s the purpose of crashing through someone’s fence? It makes absolutely no sense to me,” said Zack.
“Can they really not find something else to do to find entertainment? Because vinyl fences have been around for a long time and I don’t recall thinking, ‘I’m going to go take out a vinyl fence because I have nothing else to do.'” said Summer.
Vinyl fence vandalism hasn’t been unique to just Harrisville. Kaysville Police said they’ve had a spike with 20 calls in the past month, some cases have cost thousands of dollars in damage.
“There’s people who have had this happen to them three or four times and it adds up. It adds up pretty quick especially when these large panels are damaged and they’re having to replace an entire panel,” said Lt. Paul Thompson with Kaysville Police Department. “The vandals are costing these people a lot of money and some of them don’t have the money to pay for this.”
Law enforcement said this could be part of a new trend, where people challenge one another to break vinyl fences, record the event, and then post it online.
“There’s a lot of videos floating around out there with people doing the same type of activity. We see a lot of copycats. This does seem to be a trend. Trends come and go. We’re sure there’s going to be another one,” said Lt. Thompson.
The Pattersons said this is more than just the vandalism. They said their neighborhood has been targeted by thieves, trespassers, and carjackers as well.
“This neighborhood has been victimized and terrorized by a group of juveniles for the last year. Harrisville Police are always here. They’re very quick to respond and ask a lot of great questions. They want to be helpful,” said Summer. “It seems to slow down, but then it picks back up again. I don’t know if there’s just not enough consequences or if these juveniles aren’t being caught.”
The Harrisville homeowners of six years hope that by sharing their surveillance video, it will help police catch those responsible.
“It’s never-ending. It’s time. If we can get as many people to see and share this video to hold the vandals accountable, it would be a relief to be free of this criminal activity,” said Summer. “We live in this neighborhood because we love it. But we also want to feel safe and secure, and we don’t.”
Police said there’s not much residents can do for preventative measures. But he said having surveillance cameras like the Pattersons do, is helpful for law enforcement and increases the chance of catching the vandal.
“It makes a big difference. We rely heavily on our citizens and the information that they have in order for us to identify these people,” said Lt. Thompson. “The spike in vandalism cases has definitely tied us down. But with this reoccurring, we want to have appropriate resources. It is draining on our resources to have to investigate this,” he said.
Lt. Thompson also encourages parents to keep an eye out on their teens, who may be taking part in the trend.
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