Hayden Hayden residents woke up to a disturbing sight Wednesday morning. Vandals took to spray painting derogatory messages about the schools and police and pro-marijuana use messages on local businesses, Town Hall and the high school throughout the night.
Hayden Police Chief Jody Lenahan estimated the damage to the six buildings hit by the vandals at several thousand dollars.
"We have several suspects in this and fingerprints," he said. "I suspect this is a group of kids who have been hearing all the media-hype about Waco and Columbine and they decided to have some fun. We're always concerned that this sort of thing means more than vandalism, but I think this is just a case of that, nothing more."
Lenahan said the police department will nevertheless be vigilant and cautious in patrolling the community today.
Hayden High School principal Nick Schafer said the messages were mainly about marijuana use and the euphemism for smoking marijuana which is 4:20. But, dates tied to April 20 are the anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings a year ago, the Waco incident, the Oklahoma City bombing and Adolph Hitler's birthday, Schafer said, and the town hall was painted with an anarchy symbol last night.
"These people that did this are tying to piggy back on the 4.20 date and time," Schafer said. "They are smart enough to know this time of year, they'll get a lot of attention doing silly stuff. They're legends in their own minds."
Schafer said he wasn't concerned that the graffiti was an indication that there may be trouble at the school on Thursday, but school officials will be cognizant of any strange or unusual occurrence.
"We'll be more vigilant on Thursday," Schafer said. "Our teachers will be showing more a presence in the classroom."
Schafer had no idea what the cost of the vandalism would would be to the school but he said he already had staff working to clean up the paint.
Karen Fox rents space at the S.G.F. building located at 300 West Jefferson where an anti-police message was left by the vandals. The building was covered with vinyl siding two years ago and Fox said the spray paint has probably ruined the permanent covering.
"I imagine the siding will need to be replaced. I'm obviously distraught about this," Fox said. "Why do people have nothing better to do than destroy other people's property? It's very frustrating."
Fox said that her biggest concern is the continued vandalism the public works department has been cleaning up at the local parks.
"The town is getting destroyed and I don't see this coming to an end. People wonder why we don't have anything nice in Hayden," she said. "I don't know what the answer is but this sort of thing has got to stop."
The Kum and Go convenience store was defaced with marijuana messages that were sprayed on the outside ice cooler and a storage shed.
"This is the first time we've been vandalized like this," Assistant Store Manager Jody Holloway, said. "It really isn't funny, I think these people are just trying to get attention."
First National Bank of the Rockies was also hit with references to marijuana smoking. Pam Simpson, operations coordinator, said it's probably going to cost them quite a bit to get it cleaned up.
"We can't just paint over it and it's painted on an area that is cement," she said. "This is the first time someone has defaced the building, I don't know what's wrong with people and why they would want to do this."
Lenahan said that if the perpetrators were juveniles, they would probably not see any jail time for the incident but could face up to one year of probation, monetary restitution and community service. If adults, the crime could be considered a felony and those involved may spend some time in jail in addition to other fines and probation, he said.
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