Vandalism, Theft and Compulsive Arrangement in Willow Creek
TWO RIVERS TRIBUNE
Businesses and community organizations in Willow Creek have been hit by a series of petty thefts and vandalism incidents that took a bizarre turn last week.
Workers who were mowing the lawn at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Cemetery on Wednesday, May 7, found carved-up trees, damaged sprinklers, and a broken lock on the storage shed.
Dawn “Dusty” Napier, the Commander of Willow Creek’s VFW Post, said, “They were mowing to get ready for Mother’s Day and Memorial Day and they saw the lock was broken.”
Napier went to look at the damage and said what she found inside was disturbing.
“We have a wheelbarrow in there, and it was full of young children’s clothing. There was a girl’s jacket, a little kid’s ball cap, some baby booties, a kid’s pullover, a couple pairs of socks and a backpack with a little girl’s name stenciled on the front of it,” she said.
There were also numerous other objects – some taken from the nearby elementary school – seemingly arranged in some sort of pattern related to shapes or colors.
Napier said, “It’s right next to the elementary school and one of the things found in there was a timer in a box that said TVES for Trinity Valley Elementary School. There were also a couple of rubber play balls marked for Trinity Valley and some marked for Head Start.”
The workers also found video tapes and what appeared to be home-made sex toys.
“There were five or six of them,” Napier said. “I contacted the Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff’s Deputy Peterson came in and took some pictures.”
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Peterson said, “It’s not your run of the mill vandalism. The incident at the VFW was definitely a little different.”
Peterson added that vandalism is so widespread that many people will just repair minor damage themselves without reporting it.
“Basically, if you don’t document a report, it’s like it never happened,” Peterson said. “We won’t know unless it’s reported to us, and if there are patterns they could help us in our investigation.”
Willow Creek businesses people and community members described similar incidents that seem to fit a pattern.
Trinity Valley Elementary School Principal Sandi Moon said, “We have a storage shed for our four garbage cans. Every once in a while, we come in and somebody’s pried away the lock hasp and went through the trash.”
“This weekend, they did real damage to the door and spread the trash out into the courtyard and it was separated into neat little piles. It was bizarre,” Moon said. “It’s not like they’re taking things, they’re just organizing things. We were wondering if one of the homeless people has OCD or something.”
The Willow Creek Community Services District (WCCSD) reported a similar incident near their office and in Creekside Park.
Lonnie Danel, WCCSD Manager, said, “We have that on an ongoing daily basis.”
“There’s someone taking twigs from around our office and stacking them in neat piles; weird little things like that,” Danel said. “We set up a game camera and it caught someone stealing rope from the WCCSD flagpole.”
Danel said they informaly identified the person in the picture as someone who lives at a hotel in town, and turned the photo over to a Sheriff’s Deputy.
Ray’s Food Place security cameras also caught somebody on tape.
Chris Kramer, the store’s manager, said, “The first time, he patiently undid every one of the bolts holding a metal bar across the lids to get into the garbage. Later, he used a crowbar to pry back the rebar we’d welded on.”
Kramer said he’d have to check the WCCSD’s photo to see if it showed the same person that Ray’s Food Place caught on video.
Because of the vandalism and odd scene in their storage shed, the VFW installed cameras in the cemetery this week.
Napier said, “We installed some cameras and we’re probably going to remove the shed.”