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Rash of vandalism in St. Augustine leaves hefty cleanup bills

Graffiti in st. aug 11-08-13 (Lorena Inclan)
St. Augustine police searches for suspect behind recent rash of vandalism. (Lorena Inclan)
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Updated: 11/08/2013 8:42 pm
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The St. Augustine Police Department is searching for the person behind a recent rash of vandalism.

Two businesses and the city parking garage were targeted this week. In at least two locations, police found a V inside a circle painted on walls and an elevator door. The mark seems to resemble one from the movie "V for Vendetta."

The first business to be damaged was Arnett Heating and Air Conditioning on Orange Street. Owner Jerod Meeks said it's not the first time his store has been tagged.

"It was frustrating they had done it again," said Meeks.

Meeks said the cleanup will cost about $400. Two days later, the San Sebastian Winery got tagged with a the V mark. The next day, another V mark and the words "the fifth of November" showed up at the city parking garage.

"It seemed pretty silly to be carrying out whatever they saw in a comic book or a movie," said San Sebastian Winery Administrator Stephanie Mack. "Who knows if they'll get caught, but hopefully they will."

About three weeks earlier, surveillance video caught someone pouring motor oil on the front steps of the Absolute Art Gallery on Bridge Street. Police said there is no indication that is connected to recent acts.

According to investigators, there have been 43 incidents of criminal mischief in the past two and a half months alone in the nation's oldest city.

Police are now looking into nearby cameras for any leads. Meanwhile, they've put extra officers downtown on the weekends due to the increased crime.

"They need to be responsible for their actions and know there are consequences for those actions," said Meeks.

If convicted, the tagger could face a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.


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