Vandalism exposes bigger concerns

Youth involved need community, adult support

By Tom Benton

Staff Writer

The Facts

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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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  • Lisa Roque

    Thank you Joey Stell for at least recognizing why it’s happening…that’s a first step in the right direction….and i’m sorry but the fact that these kids have nothing to do and clearly limited supervision should cut deeper than vandalized flower boxes….in a few years they’ll likely put down the spray cans and pick up a needle.

  • AL from VT

    It’s not the kids being bored, it is the lack of supervision and discipline by their parents. The kids should be separated and put into the states hands and the parents should all be charged for the offenses of their kids. The parents should also be require to pay 100% restitution for the repair and replacement of the destroyed property.

  • BB8620

    They won’t be bored with all of the community service they should have to do. Repainting / repairing everything should make them feel that they have a place in their community, too. Poor parenting coupled with the entitlement their generation has causes this to happen.

  • Sue

    Points well made by the Chief and others. What happened to kids finding constructive things to do when bored? Form a band, play basketball, baseball or skateboard, maybe even
    help others out around their neighborhood. I would never dare to do anything like this in fear of what would happen to me when my parents found out. Parents of minor children are legally responsible for damage caused by their children. I believe that the kids themselves should do much of the community service, repairing the damage as previously stated. There has to be a better solution than putting them into the “system” of the law and all that entails. There is a solution but the community will have to start to work together to make it happen, not just leave it up to someone/anyone else.