Cost of malicious OB, PB window vandalisms a pane for merchants

OCEAN BEACH/PACIFIC BEACH — San Diego police said they believe the same people who etched into and sullied about 90 windows in Ocean Beach along Newport Avenue recently have also hit several Pacific Beach businesses along the 900 block of Garnet Avenue — along with some in other communities.

Investigators are “confident” the mass taggers will be brought to justice, said San Diego police Lt. Andra Brown.

“These guys deserve to be nailed for everything they did,” Brown said. “If they’re going to show such little regard for the community, the community should come together and say [these guys] need to be held responsible for their actions.”

Using acid or an etching tool, the taggers have scratched the letters TUC, TRC, the letter X or the letters RSEN into windows or walls of dozens of businesses, she said.

With each large window in Ocean Beach costing an estimated $1,400 to $2,000, the total monetary damage could cost merchants well over $100,000.

Many merchants, like Craig Gerwig, owner of Newport Avenue Antique Center, will have to bear the sight of the etchings until they can replace the windows.

“And I’m going to see that every single day,” Gerwig said. “I don’t think we’re ever going to replace them. As soon as you replace it, some idiot is going to come do it again.”

David Strachwitz, co-owner of Green Lady Hydroponics, agrees.

“None of us really have the money to get a new window, I’m pretty sure,” he said.

Strachwitz’s store security cameras may play a crucial role in helping investigators identify the taggers, because the cameras captured images of a group of three males in the act of vandalism. The footage was broadcast on local news stations.

While merchants reel from the malicious acts, such incidents tend to bring neighbors together in support of one another, said Denny Knox, executive director of the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association.

“If people aren’t covered [by insurance] then we might do some sort of fundraisers,” she said.

But as merchants in Ocean Beach grapple for solutions, others in the community have not taken steps to even report the crimes, said police.

According to investigators, there are about 15 open cases out of the roughly 32 businesses in the affected beach communities struck by the string of etchings. If the vandals are caught and made to pay court-mandated restitution, the taggers can only held accountable for documented and reported cases of the vandalism.

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