Vandals hit Aiken neighborhood

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, October 23, 2007

AIKEN, S.C. -- Investigators in Aiken continue looking for those responsible for spreading gang-related graffiti at the Crosland Park neighborhood off Highway 1.

It was a wild Saturday Night in one neighborhood in Aiken - the Crosland Park neighborhood. Vandals came out -- young vandals according to the Aiken Department of Public Safety -- and wrote all over the road and mailboxes. And that's not all.

Edna Mackie has lived in this neighborhood for about a year. She says it was pretty quiet, but that's changing fast.

"Lately, the mailboxes have really been a problem, people spray painting," she said.

Sunday evening was when she first noticed her mailbox filled with yellow spray paint. And this isn't the first time her mailbox has been hit. She says earlier this year someone tore her mailbox down.

Seven people have been arrested, all but one of them juveniles. Schantrika Carter is the only adult involved so far. She's 17 years old. Investigators say the paintings are gang related, and the kids are trying to align themselves with well-known gangs.

"In this case, they used the word Bloods. But they aren't tied to that organization," said Lt. David Turno.

Investigators had an easy time finding who's responsible for the vandalism because many of them had gang markings like a shirt or certain color. Ethel Bennett was home when investigators say the vandals hit her husband's car, by spray-painting a rear back window.

"It's a nice neighborhood if the kids would just stop messing with people's yards. Other than that, it's peace and quiet," Ethel said.

But this isn't the first run-in Ethel's had with vandals. She says this summer someone stole her bird bath. Another time, her landscaping lights. Her message is simple: "Stop vandalizing things that don't belong to them."

Now, all those neighbors we talked to said they are going to all look out for each other and make sure things like this don't happen again.

In all, the damage totaled more than $5,000. Public Safety Officers will clean up the mess. Some of the people arrested did live in the Crosland Park neighborhood. Lt. Turno tells News 12 that so far in Aiken, there are loosely organized gangs, but no major criminal activity yet.

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