Sheriff’s department quickly nabs vandalism suspects, but restitution comes much slower

Published 9:25 am Monday, August 17, 2015

The Warren County Sheriff’s Department should be commended for the swift work they made in bringing a string of vandalism in the county to a halt.

Friday, three teens surrendered and were charged with malicious mischief  in a crime spree that damaged 51 vehicle windows last week.  They are, of course, innocent until proven guilty.

Deputies and investigators closed the case thanks to quick, attentive police work by combing meticulously through surveillance video and records of traffic stops.

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“One of the investigative steps that we took was to investigate every traffic stop that deputy sheriffs made on the night this occurred. One of the traffic stops that was made on a white pickup fit the description of a white truck seen on the security footage we received,” Sheriff Martin Pace said. “We were able to piece the puzzle together of that night and identify all three individuals.”

The vandalism all apparently occurred with BB guns as did 37 reports between July 12 and 15 inside the Vicksburg city limits. The two cases do not seem related other than to be acts of, as Pace put it, “senseless destruction of property.”

Our thoughts go out to the owners of all the windows broken in these senseless acts. Their justice won’t be a swift. Property owners are responsible for getting estimates of damage and turning them into the sheriff’s office or police department, depending on where the vandalism occurred.

Then, they are unfortunately stuck with the bill for what can be years in some cases. The wheels of justice turn slow for reason both good and bad. In all cases property owners must wait until after a conviction to begin collecting restitution.

While everyone responsible could go ahead and fess up, such a deal is unlikely. Most likely, the cases will be presented to the October term of the Warren County grand jury, and all defendants will enter a not guilty plea. Trial dates will be set for months from then. During the July term of the grand jury, February and March were the closest trial dates.

Once trial is set, it’s more waiting fore repayment as the case will result in either a trial or a guilty plea. Cases often get delayed. That’s just part of the system.

Once a conviction is in hand — if that happens — felons are ordered to pay restitution, fines, and fees at a rate of typically a few hundred dollars or less a month, meaning windows broken now likely won’t get paid for — even partially —until sometime in 2017 or beyond.

We wish these property owners the best.