July 1, 2016

Partly sunny

Police seek vandals tearing up parks with ‘turfing’

MEDINA — Police are looking for suspects in several cases of vandalism that have plagued city parks this month.

Three times in December, police have received reports of lawn damage caused by vehicles, an activity known as “turfing.”

Vandals left deep, muddy ruts in the wet grass at Reagan Park — one of three Medina parks damaged by vehicles this month. The other parks are Fred Greenwood Park and Ken Cleveland Park. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAVID KNOX)

Lawns have been vandalized, leaving deep, muddy ruts at Reagan Park on Dec. 9, Fred Greenwood Park on Dec. 12 and Ken Cleveland Park on Dec. 18.

“No leads so far,” said Medina Police Sgt. Scott Marcum. “It’s happened in the past, but it seems like this month has been heavier than usual. We have extra patrols in the parks trying to find them.”

Marcum said all the incidents have been reported by park personnel, but one resident said she’s seen plenty of it over the past two years.

Barb Dasch walks through Reagan Park often and said she’s seen the damage near the soccer field, the skate park and other grassy areas.

Dasch said she’s seen certain parking lots closed off by chain to keep recently repaired areas from being damaged again.

“As a person who uses the park and enjoys the beauty of the park, I feel bad that someone would want to damage it,” she said. “If parents were more aware of it, they could check their kids’ cars. I’m not certain they’re kids, but I can’t imagine they’d be very old.”

Service Director Nino Piccoli is more certain.

“Mostly, when people have been caught, it’s been kids,” he said. “When one is apprehended and prosecuted, the message will be sent loud and clear.

“Obviously, we’re not going to condone vandalism, and we’re in the process of looking for some security cameras that we can put up that will, hopefully, deter this from happening.”

Piccoli said the people who do the “turfing” do it for some muddy, thrill-seeking fun.

He said such vandals are often caught when they get stuck and need a tow truck.

If the suspects are caught, the vandalism charge will likely carry a second-degree misdemeanor charge for criminal damaging, Marcum said. That’s punishable by up to three months in jail and a $750 fine.

Piccoli said the damaged areas will be repaired in the spring.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.