A spate of graffiti over the weekend in Elmira has police investigating four counts of vandalism. Some of the spree was caught on high-definition surveillance cameras outside the Home Hardware store on Church Street, making identification of the suspects that much easier.
The security footage posted to Facebook and viewed more than 3,000 times shows a man and a woman walking across the parking lot into the light, looking right up at the camera while the female suspect shakes a spray can. The incident occurred around 10:20 p.m. on September 6.
At locations in the town, the pair left a combination of hate-motivated, incomprehensible and random writing plastered on various surfaces using red-coloured Premier Spray Paint purchased at Canadian Tire.
Krista McBay, the owner of the Elmira Home Hardware, said many people took a personal interest in the vandalism and released video coverage.
“It seems like everyone is insulted by what they wrote on the wall and the fact that they did this in our community,” said McBay. “It just makes me laugh because it’s such a tight-knit community, and everybody knows everybody. For this to happen, it’s even more insulting.”
McBay added that she “does not think” the suspects are under 18; therefore, they may be named after charges are laid. She noted that multiple people had come forward to identify the female suspect after she posted the security footage, but could not say who it is.
“So many people have identified her,” said McBay. “She looked right at the camera. Everybody kind of knows who that is. I’ve got different names for the guy.”
There will be criminal charges laid once the suspects are correctly identified. They face multiple counts of ‘mischief.’
The Home Hardware store was particularly hard hit. While much of the graffiti had been
cleaned from the exterior walls, there are small sections of the murals that were hit, including a Remembrance Day-themed mural, that will take more time to fix with a special solvent.
Other locations sprayed include hate-motivated comments at Victoria Glen Street, equipment and property at William Street (former Riverside PS building) and hate-motivated comments at Riverside Drive West and Victoria Glen Street, according to Waterloo Regional Police reports.
“Usually, the property owner of that property would take care of repainting or whatever needs to be done – repainting or disguise the graffiti,” said Cst. Ashley Dietrich, spokesperson for the Waterloo Regional Police. “Sometimes people leave it, and shortly thereafter it gets painted again. We do see that on some occasions.”
The writings did not follow any consistent pattern, she suggested, making it difficult to identify the suspects off the spray paint alone.
“They basically used nonsensical tags, so I don’t know if anybody is even able to make out,” said Dietrich. “Sometimes people go around using their tag, and sometimes we’re able to identify the tag based off of other intelligence that’s been gathered at different locations and then identify them.”
McBay added that there might be more individuals in on it than the video initially suggested.
“As I was watching the video … after these two left, about an hour and a half later … a pack of 8-10 young teenagers wearing backpacks came walking around the building to … kind of check out what had been done,” said McBay. “To me, it almost seemed like they knew what had happened, and they were coming to check it out.”
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact police at 519-570-9777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.