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Treat vandals harshly

What were they thinking? What was their motive? What prompted their decision to deface more than three dozen Altoona properties?

Why were they out roaming city streets at 4:30 a.m.? If they live at home with their parents, aren’t there any rules about being out late, or otherwise any wholesome guidance or real supervision?

In the aftermath of their actions, did they brag to anyone about their “accomplishment” — to someone who became an accomplice in concealing the information?

Those were some of the questions being asked last week by city residents who live both within and well beyond the area where vandals on Dec. 29 spray-painted graffiti on at least 40 properties. The spray-painting spree stretched from the KNY Fitness building on the 900 block of Lexington Avenue to Cherry Avenue and from Lloyd Street to Ninth Street.

Altoona is a nice city. It doesn’t deserve to be turned into an eyesore — even on a limited scale — by immature, irresponsible individuals who get kicks out of causing damage or inconvenience to others or their properties.

Hopefully, the courts will have the full opportunity to convey that message during sentencing of those responsible. And city residents should remain vigilant in terms of watching that the city’s best interests are represented if and when sentences are handed down.

Although graffiti is not anywhere near the most serious crime that could have been inflicted against the property owners in question, as much information as possible should be released to the public, if only to educate about consequences of engaging in such destructive conduct.

Those involved in the Dec. 29 spray-paintings obviously didn’t consider what impact such a seemingly minor crime could have on their lives and ambitions, going forward. They obviously were too immature or uninformed to know about the possible existence of surveillance cameras at properties in the area.

Another question: Why didn’t they have anything better to do with their money than waste it on “vandalism supplies,” if they didn’t steal the paint or “borrow” it from their homes?

According to a Jan. 3 Mirror article, police suspected initially that at least three individuals had taken part in the vandalism. Police said the graffiti painted the most on the targeted houses, garages, cars, signs and fences consisted of the markings “iV,” “ugly kidz” and “rg3,” or some variations of them.

Two things that the markings demonstrated were arrogance and the lack of maturity of the individuals involved.

Big cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are victimized by plenty of graffiti-painting, but that generally is less of a problem for cities the size of Altoona. When it does occur here, the vandalism usually jumps out at the observer or passer-by.

That’s what happened when darkness gave way to daylight on Dec. 29 and people began realizing the scope of what had occurred overnight — and that an unwanted, and in some cases, difficult cleanup task awaited them.

The vandals probably will remember the “fun” they had Dec. 29 for the rest of their lives. Hopefully, they will have the opportunity to remember even more vividly, for the rest of their lives, proceedings of their day or days in court.

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