Crime

Belleville spray paint vandalism includes racist and gang graffiti

Vandals hit Belleville neighborhood, park with racist graffiti

Vandals hit South Side park, cars, and buildings with spray paint in the neighborhood on Union and St. Clair Ave in Belleville.
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Vandals hit South Side park, cars, and buildings with spray paint in the neighborhood on Union and St. Clair Ave in Belleville.

Belleville Police said Friday they were looking for the people responsible for about 15 incidents of spray paint vandalism that included racially offensive slogans and gang tags.

Detective Sgt. Mark Heffernan said the vandalism included words that were not discernible. “There are others that have some potentially racially inflammatory tags on them being ‘KKK,’” Heffernan said. “There’s also some gang tagging as well.

“It doesn’t appear that anyone was specifically targeted with the racially inflammatory graffiti,” Heffernan said. “It appears to be just random victims, almost as if the suspects were walking down the street randomly tagging these vehicles as opposed to targeting a specific family on their race.”

I think I was calm because our neighbors are all really nice. We were all out there scrubbing together.

Natalie Platzkoester, victim of spray paint vandalism

Natalie Platzkoester’s Ford Focus, the first car she bought on her own, was damaged with yellow stripes of spray paint along the driver’s side. Her car was parked on Union Avenue.

“It’s not the way I want to be wakened up on a Friday morning, ‘Hey Natalie, somebody spray painted your car,’” Platzkoester said. “I think I was calm because our neighbors are all really nice.”

One of her neighbors let her use a can of paint remover, which takes off graffiti without damaging the car’s paint. “We were all out there scrubbing together.”

By late Friday morning, all of the paint had been removed. “We got on it right away,” Platzkoester said. “We got lucky.”

Police first noticed the damage about 1 to 1:30 a.m. Friday and started alerting residents to the vandalism.

Police were still taking reports on Friday and did not yet have an estimated value of the damage.

Cars, garages and playground equipment at South Side Park were targeted. The damage happened primarily on St. Clair Avenue but also on Union Avenue, South Seventh Street and the 700 block of State Street, Heffernan said.

Heffernan said detectives need the public’s help in solving the crime. Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call the Belleville Police Department at 618-234-1212 or CrimeStoppers at 866-371-8477.

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