Vandalism is an issue in every community, but it has come to a head this summer in Clay County.
There have been numerous acts of vandalism, including smashed mailboxes, slashed tires and spray painting of vehicles, which has inconvenienced residents.
"The majority of vandalism acts in Brazil are vehicle related," Brazil City Police Chief Terry Harrison said. "Vandalism also occurs mainly late at night."
While vandalism peaks during the summer months, it is a year-long issue.
"There are different times of the year when vandalism increases in the county," Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton said. "However, the biggest peak comes in the summer."
Heaton also said that there is an obvious difference between vandalism and criminal mischief.
"Acts that cause property damage, such as spray painting vehicles, are classified as criminal mischief," Heaton said. "Other acts which do not cause damage, like soaping windows or toilet papering a house, are classified as vandalism, but can also bring about a charge of criminal trespass."
While there is no sure-fire way to stop vandalism altogether, Harrison offered some advice on how to help minimize the change of it occurring.
"The main thing is to make sure your vehicles remain locked at all times and keep any valuables out of plain sight," Harrison said. "There are cases where someone will break a window of a vehicle in a lighted area, but if the vehicle is locked, they will usually move on because they do not want to make any noise."
Harrison also said that if residents should see anyone walking the streets or riding a bike unusually late at night that they should report them to law enforcement authorities.
"They might not be up to anything at all, but we want to check and make sure the residents are safe," Harrison said. "Also, residents should make a report, even for minor vandalism acts, because we still like to know what is happening."
Acts of vandalism not only affect residents emotionally, but financially as well.
"Those involved in vandalism need to realize the costs of their actions, not only for the victim's replacement of property, but for law enforcement resources as well," Heaton said. "Vandalism is a drain on all the taxpayers of Clay County."
To report vandalism of any kind, call the Brazil City Police Dept. at 446-2211, or the Clay County Sheriff's Dept. at 446-2535.