Rising crime in Schroth and City Park cost Exeter $12k in play structure repairs and caused multiple park amenities to be removed
EXETER – Increasing vandalism and crime to Exeter’s Schroth and City parks has ended up costing the city thousands in repairs.
Vandalism has risen in Schroth and City Park within the last few months, according to public works director Daymon Qualls. It has cost the city $4,000 in tarp replacements already, and recently $12,249.44 in play structure repairs was passed on Aug. 9 during the Exeter city council meeting. Barbeques, restrooms and other park amenities have also been seriously damaged.
“In recent months, the vandalism has gotten really bad,” Qualls stated during the city council meeting. “We’re to the point now where we either have to replace the parts or permanently put the play structures out of service.”
Factors as to why the increase in Exeter’s vandalism and other crime is difficult to pinpoint, according to police chief John Hall. Hall stated that juvenile mischief, gang activity and a rise in homelessness all contribute to the increase in vandalism and crime that Exeter is seeing. Vandalism is only part of the increase in Exeter’s overall crime, as violent crime has been on the rise since 2018, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime Data Explorer.
“Anytime you have schools that are in session, it’s not uncommon for kids to go out and get into some mischief,” Hall said. “Then you also have the issues like some of our gang members who get arrested for crime then get released. We’re seeing an increase in a lot of crime because without people being in custody, and with trials being delayed, the consequences for criminal acts aren’t being immediately filled.”
Juveniles being a part of crime and vandalism has also been challenging for Exeter police investigations, as was the case with the 41-year-old man who was found shot and killed in his crashed car last year. For example, juvenile interrogation protection has expanded as of last year when California Senate Bill 203, which bans questioning a minor until they have consulted an attorney, was passed.
“Our investigators have identified a number of leads but one of the challenges that we face has to do with the legislation pertaining to the interviewing of juveniles,” Hall said. “That precludes us from conducting a lot of interviews.”
Community involvement, such as the neighborhood watch, is essential to combatting the rising crime, according to Hall. There are also not enough resources for police to be in so many areas at once.
“We just can’t be everywhere,” Hall said. “Crime prevention is a community effort, we will absolutely do everything we can.”