Vandals Strike Long Beach Ball Field

LONG BEACH (WLOX)--They broke one of the top windows of the newly-built concession stand, and took a four-wheeler on a joyride around the park. The new ball field that's under construction off Daughtery Road in Long Beach is the latest target of vandals.

"They cut some wires off the meter box, and pulled some hydraulic hoses off the equipment that was out there," said Long Beach Police Chief Wayne McDowell, as he pointed to some pictures of the damage.

Chief McDowell says this common summertime crime has become quite serious.

"Most times, you might have some public areas that are vacant at night that they might do a little damage to, but not like what we're seeing right now," said Chief McDowell. "And what they're targeting is areas for the public that enhance the communities."

Just last Friday, juveniles set fire to the playground at "Bel Aire Elementary School" in Harrison County, destroying the equipment. And earlier this month, vandals attacked "Bayou View Park" in Gulfport, damaging a fence and leaving shattered glass all over the children's play area.

"I would say a lot of it goes back to peer pressure," said McDowell. "When you're with juveniles, something they normally wouldn't do by themselves.  But when you get a group of them, they kind of talk each other into something they wouldn't do."

Chief McDowell says the worst case of vandalism he's seen so far occurred at the new "First Baptist Church in Long Beach". Vandals broke a window and spray painted graffiti. So the chief is beefing up overnight patrols, and he's asking the public to report any suspicious activity.

"Knowing these kinds of crimes are occurring, when they see something out of place, they'll call and let us know," said McDowell.

The chief has this message for vandals:  "Vandals, you go out and damage property, the community will step up and take action, and will not stand for it."

Two Long Beach citizens are offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction in the church vandalism case.

Meanwhile, Gulfport Police have arrested two Saucier teenagers for the playground fire at Bel Aire Elementary School. A 16-year old male and a 15-year-old female are each charged with second-degree arson. And two teens have been arrested in a vandalism incident that occurred in Bay St. Louis earlier this month. The teens are accused of damaging the concession building at the new soccer complex off Longfellow Road.

By: Trang Pham-Bui