SWANTON — Swanton Police know the identity of young vandals defacing community resources and landmarks. However, of what to do with 13-year-olds who likely feel they have no place in the community is the greater challenge, Chief of Police Joey Stell explained at a forum Wednesday night.
“These are kids who are bored. They have nothing better to do,’” he said. “So they think, ‘I’m going to be in your face.’”
Stell said the Swanton Police Department is fairly certain they know the identities of the kids involved. They call themselves the “MM13,” a gang “tag” sprayed across the rail trail — “MM” for “Marble Mill,” and “13” because that was the age of the four or five kids when they formed the gang.
“They are probably responsible for the bulk of these vandalism crimes,” Stell said.
The rail trail has been heavily vandalized. Vandals have torn down signs and spray-painted profane anti-police language over much of what they did not tear down.
The local ball field has also been vandalized. So has the caboose at the Swanton Historical Museum and flower boxes on the Depot Street bridge, planted by volunteers from the Swanton Enhancement Project only to be thrown over the bridge and torn up again and again.
“People put their heart and souls into these flowers,” said Village Manager Reg Beliveau. “That cuts me to the core.”
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