Bryan Beilke

Vandalism in the San Luis Obispo area seems to be on the rise compared to last year’s police reports, and officials attribute the crime to alcohol consumption.

The majority of these crimes occur on weekends, when parties and alcohol consumption is elevated.

“A lot of vandalism that happens in this city, particularly in the downtown area, involves alcohol,” Sgt. Rick Crocker of the San Luis Obispo Police Department said.

“While the number of people involved is very small, it creates a lot of damage and makes people very unhappy.”

There have been 646 vandalism cases reported to the San Luis Obispo Police Department since Jan. 1, 2007. Seven hundred and three cases were reported from Jan. 1, 2006 to Dec. 31, 2006.

It seems as though this year’s number will exceed last year’s number, officials said. At Cal Poly, there have been 73 reports of vandalism between Jan. 1, 2007 and Oct. 16, 2007. In the same period last year, there were only 63 vandalism cases reported.

“College is stressful and sometimes a little destructive behavior is a way for some people to vent,” Detective John Edds of the Cal Poly University Police Department said.

Reasons for this destructive behavior are broad and varied, but Edds said the entertainment value for those committing the crimes is probably a strong motivation.

While there is no way to tell whether the rising numbers are attributed to an increased number of vandalism acts or simply an increase in the number of reports, officials said that many incidents still go unreported.

Vandalism comes in various forms, including but not limited to graffiti and destruction to private or public property, officials said. Unfortunately, most cases do not get reported until the next morning or not at all, Crocker said.

“Vandalism is incredibly prevalent,” Crocker said.

“I cannot count the number of vandalisms that we take – or the number that we don’t take that I hear about later. It’s a huge problem.”

He explained that a number of people do not report cases of vandalism because they may not think that it’s worthy of police time or resources.

In many cases, officers happen to be there on another call when they hear about the unreported crimes.

“Vandalism is easy to (report),” he said.

“It’s not labor-intensive to track that type of crime. We try to explain that it’s not wasting our time. It’s important to keep track of things like that.”

If people report vandalism when it happens, or when they notice it, they will help officers keep track of which areas have the highest levels of activity.

This allows for officials to delegate officers to a certain area and increases police efficiency, officials said.

“It’s important for people to report incidents of crime and incidents of suspicious behavior because it helps us understand what we’re up against,” Edds said.

“It’s more important to make people aware of it. If the community lets vandalism persist, it will have a negative impact on how safe the community is.”

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