“My conservative estimate right now is at $25,000. That cost likely will grow above that mark once all of the costs are tallied. It’s going to take weeks for this ultimatelyto be fixed.” — Seymour Police Chief Bob Paudert
Friday night, more than 500 Seymour residents welcomed home the Seymour High School baseball team after the Tigers’ second-place finish at the Missouri State Baseball Championships in O’Fallon.
Roughly 50 hours later, the community’s cheer turned to jeer after teenage vandals struck at seven locations in the city of Seymour, doing thousands of dollars of damage over the course of about three hours.
The means of damage?
Colors used were red, blue, purple and black.
“There’s absolutely no excuse for it,” Seymour Police Chief Bob Paudert said, noting that Officer Tyler Smith received a report of vandalism from a home on Water Street around 4 a.m. Monday morning.
“This damage was intentional. It was vulgar. It defaced public and private structures. And there will be consequences for everyone involved, including their parents.”
Paudert said around 1 a.m. Monday morning, a trio of teenagers arrived at the north side of the Seymour Middle School, behind the building’s main entrance, and began their spray-painting barrage, writing vulgar statements and drawing male genitals and pentagrams.
Their work continued as the teen threesome went to the Seymour R-II School District’s administration building, the Seymour Community Library, then the Seymour Elementary School, including playground equipment, followed by the Seymour YMCA and Preach Ministries in the former H.D. Lee Company plant.
The final spot vandalized was the Chandler residence on Water Street.
“Also hit was a spot of road on Highway AB, just east of Highway C, where the markings and paint match those found in town,” Paudert said. “The damage also included several signs ... even the sidewalk was hit at the school.”
Paudert said the spraying spree lasted almost three hours.
He said law-enforcement officials were fortunate.
“We were fortunate that these vandals were young and very stupid,” he said. “Being kids, they weren’t very smart, and they left a lot of clues when we began working the case early (Monday) morning.
“Lots of evidence was gathered at the school. There is a lot of physical evidence. For example, we’ve got fingerprints on a paint can ... excellent prints. We’ve also traced the bar codes on the can and know where it was purchased.”
Best of all, Paudert said the police have video evidence, courtesy of the school.
“New cameras were installed recently at the middle school, which wasn’t good for our teenagers,” he said.
“When our officers watched the video, a positive identification was made on one teenage girl. Since that time, we now have all three suspects identified.”
To that end, Paudert said formal interviews will occur with all three teens this week.
“We’ve got all three of them dead to right,” he said. “I suppose that they can deny what they did. If so, we can prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
Above that, Paudert said the city plans to seek financial reimbursement for the damage.
“The city will hold the parents of these kids responsible for the damages,” he noted.
“Our first avenue for this will be the curfew law, which was violated. The city also has an ordinance on the books that makes parents responsible for financial damage caused by their minor children committing vandalism.”
He said the city has had problems with teenagers committing vandalism over the past year.
“We’re going to make a dedicated effort to stop that by strictly enforcing the curfew law,” Paudert said.
Regarding the damage caused early Monday morning, he said the cost grows hourly.
“My conservative estimate right now is at $25,000,” Paudert said. “That cost likely will grow above that mark once all of the costs are tallied. It’s going to take weeks for this ultimately to be fixed.
“There is severe brick damage to city and school buildings. Over at Preach Ministries, they’ve worked all day and can’t get it fixed, spending thousands on chemicals and lots of labor, all to no real avail. These kids spray painted signs that can’t be fixed. Everything they hit is ruined.”
He said the messages spray painted make it worse.
“What they wrote is just nasty ... drawing pornographic images, writing messages about Satan, just absolute and total filth,” Paudert explained. “The school had to take down its sign at the administration building because it was so dang vulgar. We’ve got elementary kids in summer school who can’t go on the playground because of what’s been written on the north side of the elementary building.”
Paudert had a message for the parents of the children who were involved in the vandalism.
“The more hours we have in this, the higher the cost will be to you,” he said.
“If these parents agree to make their kids accept responsibility for this damage, then we will negotiate with you on the reimbursement.
“And if these parents don’t, we’ll take it to court, and we will win. Once we do, we’ll tally every penny that’s spent on cleaning this up, including every hour of city and school labor, as well as private labor. Trust me, the cost for all of this damage is very expensive.”