Four attacks reported on one house in two weeks

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Royce Eaves looks through one of the windows broken at 712 Lee St. where a rental home he owns was vandalized four times this month.(The Vicksburg Post/ Melanie Duncan )

[8/28/01]Royce C. Eaves, who has been remodeling rental homes for more than 13 years, said he has experienced occasional acts of vandalism but nothing like this month.

Eaves, 70, an engineer, contractor and former member of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, said a home at 712 Lee St., has been hit hard with paint pitched on walls and drain cleaner drizzled across carpet.

An empty house is always a prime target for vandals, Eaves said, so on Aug. 8, he said, he asked Vicksburg Police Chief Mitchell Dent for some extra patrols before work was to begin Aug. 9.

“Mr. Eaves did come in and he did order extra patrols in that area,” Dent said. “With this house sitting back off the street, it was actually in a real good location for some type of illegal activities to go on, but the officers have been checking,” Dent said.

In addition to being about 50 yards off Lee, the house is surrounded by thick underbrush and trees.

Eaves’ first report of vandalism was on Aug. 10 when a boarded-up front window was broken. Over the next 10 days, vandals visited three more times and Eaves filed three more reports.

Dent said his office receives many calls from the public for patrols around homes, especially when the residents will be away for a time. Generally, an officer will drive by and make a visual check of the house, but Dent said he now wants his officers to log in with E911 every time Eaves’ property is checked. That, he said, could give police a period of when the crimes are occurring.

“When this occurs, I would like to see them do some investigation, find the people responsible and put a stop to it,” Eaves said.

Dent said officers responding to the reported vandalism take down the complaint and turn over the report to the Investigation Division and possibly to the Juvenile Division if youths are suspected.

And, Dent said, the Lee Street case looks like the work of children. The Juvenile Division, he said, will now be on the lookout for juveniles who break curfew.

After the fourth report, Eaves did not have any more vandalism until a week ago today. He was close to finishing the remodeling job, he said, and left at noon for lunch. He returned at 2:30 p.m. to find the door kicked in, several windows broken, nearly every light fixture shattered and the new carpet ruined by someone pouring a caustic drain cleanser on it. The vandals then had a party with chips and soft drinks on the front steps. Eaves called the police.

And the next day, when Eaves found more broken windows and the back door kicked in, he again called police.

Eaves said during his years in remodeling rental properties he has had vandalism and break-ins but “nothing to the extent that happened Tuesday.” He estimated that the one-day damage total at about $2,000.

Dent said police are trying, but often get caught up in responding to a normal day’s 119 to 130 dispatches.

“With the number of calls sometimes that the officers have during the day, it would be easy for them to forget or go by or check that property,” Dent said. “They are making an extra effort to check this property.”

Facing a budget that shows a reduction in officers from 108 to 80, Dent insisted day-to-day operations after Oct. 1.

“We will not sacrifice public safety,” Dent said. “We will do those things we feel are necessary to provide the coverage that citizens need as well backup manpower for the officer on the street.”

Extra patrol for residents has resulted in appreciation for the police.

A woman living near Fort Hill took a cake to police headquarters today, thanking them for the extra patrols around her house during her vacation.

Dent said one way to provide adequate coverage on the streets is by rescheduling working hours. For example, on Saturday nights, juvenile, narcotics and detectives are placed on duty so no one will be called out on overtime for an investigation.

The new budget also contains a proposal by Mayor Laurence Leyens to equip about 100 police vehicles with transponders that will give managers tracking information on where all vehicles are. The system is to cost $325,000 to install.