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Vandals strike church again

Dennis Webb
Vail, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Vandals sprayed “God is Dead” and a pentagram in red paint at a church in Glenwood Springs Friday night, when several cars also were broken into in the same neighborhood.

Police chief Terry Wilson said it is a “distinct possibility” the same people may be responsible for both the spray painting and break-ins.

The vandalism is the latest of more than a half-dozen incidents that reportedly have occurred at the new church building since St. Stephen’s moved from downtown about three and a half years ago. Last May, a fountain at the church was knocked over and broken, causing several thousand dollars in damage.

On Friday night, vandals wrote “God is Dead” on the church doors, marked the occult pentagram symbol on a coat of arms etched in concrete and sprayed the face of a statue of Mary red.

The paint has since been removed.

Wilson said at least four vehicles were broken into within a few blocks of the church the same night, at least one by force, and a few items were reported missing. In the case of two vehicles targeted on the 1700 block of Bennett Avenue, items had been spread around but only some change was taken and a stereo was left on a seat, suggesting the culprits may have been spooked and left in a hurry, Wilson said.

Wilson said he found the vandalism at the church disturbing.

“To me that’s a really nasty thing to do. To go to someone’s place of worship and do something like that is really wrong,” he said. “It begs the question: Parents, do you know where your children are?”

Police were kept busy over the weekend dealing with youths trespassing, drinking and in one case violating probation, all while out late at night, Wilson said.

He doesn’t have reason to believe any of them were responsible for the crimes involving the church or vehicles but he and other city officials think youths may be largely responsible for a continuing problem of graffiti in Glenwood, he said.

In an e-mail Monday, St. Stephen’s parishioner Chris McGovern suggested she and her fellow council members be updated at its meeting Thursday about the city’s efforts to contact retailers that sell spray paint to see if they have policies restricting their sales to youths.

Wilson is continuing to talk to store representatives, he said

About half of those contacted so far have such policies in place, to address concerns about both graffiti and “huffing” of paint as a form of substance abuse. Chain stores in particular often have nationwide policies, he said.

Glenwood doesn’t have any curfew for youths. Wilson said one was proposed by the police department perhaps a dozen years ago, before he became chief, and it resulted in police being characterized as “jackbooted Nazis and things of that nature.”

From strictly a law enforcement standpoint, a curfew might be beneficial, he said.

“On the other hand, I would hate to think that we would need something like that,” he said.


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