Store owner takes action after repeated vandal attacks
After being vandalized four times in just the last few weeks, the owner of one antiques and consignment shop in Westerly said 'enough is enough!'
Now instead of just boarding up the four by six foot plate glass window out front, he posted a huge message to the 'bad guys' where the window itself used to be.
Scrolled across the large piece of cardboard, the statement reads, "THANKZ 4 DESTROYING OUR STORE! DRUNKS HAVE SMASHED 4 WINDOWS, RIPPED SIGN DOWN, LEFT PUKE @ DOOR, EMPTY + BROKEN BOTTLES IN ENTRY. JUST DESTORY EVERYTHING WE TRY TO DO."
Needless to say, Mark Bogue, who has owned and operated 'Repurposed Consign and Design' on High Street in Westerly since 2010, is angry.
While holding a foot long shard of glass very carefully, Bogue said, "This could have easily stuck right through someone and stabbed them. How they got through this window without getting stabbed and hurt, I don't understand."
The latest problem began early Sunday morning at around 1 a.m. when the phone rang at the Bogue home.
Bogue said, "It was the Westerly Police Department saying that somebody had crashed through one of the plate glass windows at the front of our store."
So, much as he has the last few times, Bogue patched up the hole in his business, and hoped for an arrest.
But as far as he knows, no one has ever been held accountable for any of the damage.
Frustrated, the seasoned carpenter and antiques fanatic decided to send that message to the bad guys sarcastically 'thanking them' for vandalizing his property, again.
Bogue says the problems only happen late-night after the bars along High Street let out, and he wants the town to do something to make the area safer.
"I'm not sure what four police officers and patrol cars are doing between; let's say midnight and two a.m., when they really need to patrol the situation. It is out of control, it is getting worse," he said.
Ever since Bogue put the cardboard sign up, several other High Street store owners have come forward with similar stories.
Janice Crawford runs a high-end interior design shop two doors down called 'L'Interieur.'
Crawford said, "The same thing happened to me. I got a phone call early in the morning saying my windows had been broken, and it was quite expensive because it didn't just ruin the window, it shredded the curtains inside, and destroyed a lot of the furniture that was in the display case."
Denise Pellegrino owns the popular dress boutique 'Melissa Ashley Brides Limited' that sits between Repurposed Consign and Design, and L'Interieur.
The experienced business owner had the same story to tell.
"Early this Spring, the windows at my store were broken by rowdy people that were coming by at night after the bars closed. The whole window was taken out," she said.
The Executive Director for the Greater Westerly Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce says, unfortunately, vandalism is one of the problems that comes along with growth.
Lisa Konicki said, "Westerly is growing. We're thriving, unlike some downtown communities. We're a victim of our own success right now. We have some wonderful restaurants and retail stores, and now we have a very active night life, and so it's a matter of getting everybody together at the same table, and trying to strike the right balance so that it's a safe, enjoyable environment for everybody."
And the High Street store owners NBC10 spoke with each think that adding more police patrols on Friday and Saturday nights, is the answer.
Crawford said, "Between midnight and two am, if there was an officer that was posted here at that time, I think it would keep a lot of things from happening."
Pellegrino said, "I just think that if there were more police surveillance when the bars closed at night, like when they're walking to their cars, that it would be better."
Bogue couldn't agree more.
"This is an ongoing, increasing situation that there definitely appears to be nothing being done about," he said.
But not everyone thinks that patrols need to be increased on High Street in Westerly.
In fact some people say they see officers walking or driving there all the time.
NBC10 did contact Westerly's Chief of Police to see what his take on the matter was, but it was after 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, and we have not heard back from him yet.