Vandals face serious penalties

My Turn

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2001

I have lived on the North Douglas Highway for over 20 years. On Nov. 8, in broad daylight between 1 and 3 p.m., someone driving at high speed smashed mine and my neighbor's mailboxes completely off the post by throwing a pumpkin from a speeding vehicle. The impact was so severe it hurled pieces of pumpkin clear over to the adjoining property. On Nov. 9, someone threw a very large rock into my car, which was parked near the highway. Two or three years ago, someone threw a pumpkin into the side of my vehicle, caving in the side.

My concern is this: Throwing any object from a moving vehicle has the potential to kill or severely injure anyone who steps out. Small children frequently walk down my driveway and neighbor's driveway. Even an adult could easily be killed by any object thrown from a speeding vehicle. I fully realize that this type of vandalism from a vehicle could kill someone.

It is a federal offense to destroy a mailbox or mail. Some serious jail time or a large fine could be the result. Because of my experience and other incidents of this type in Juneau, I have contacted the U.S. postal inspector in Anchorage as well as the police. In Alaska, vandalism to a vehicle or other private or public property of over $500 (which is easily done these days) is a felony that could result in loss of a person's voting rights, the right to carry a firearm and the right to certain types of employment.

Vandalism in Juneau is very high. I read a quote by a police officer in the Juneau Empire a few years ago that Juneau ranked No. 17 in the United States in vandalism (per capita). It is important for all members of the public to be aware and get involved in law enforcement. I realize this because I was deputized myself for over 20 years when I was employed by Alaska Fish and Game as a biologist and involved with considerable law enforcement. The eyes and ears of all members of the public are needed to maintain public safety and law and order. If you see any law violations, speeding, vandalism, theft, fish and fame violations, or suspicious activities, call the dispatcher at the Juneau Police Department or the Alaska State Troopers. The phone numbers are easy to find; they are inside the front of the phone book. If you don't want to get involved because of concern for public safety or your neighbor, do it for the reward. I believe you can remain anonymous and claim up to a $1,000 reward for law enforcement tips on the Juneau Crime Line. Hey, that's a lot of money!

I consider myself a friend of any police officer and this letter is an open invitation to use my driveway or parking lot anytime for a stakeout. It is on a nice straight stretch of highway with a good view in both directions to observe speeders. My wife will make you a cup of coffee and we probably have some homemade bread. Just knock on the door anytime.

Oh, incidentally, if you're the vandals reading this letter, I think my neighbor saw your vehicle, the vandalism is a felony, and I'm going to talk to the neighbor right now. And good luck. You'll need it now!

Phillip L. Gray has lived in Juneau since 1969. He retired from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in 1986.

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