Vandals Take Advantage Of Minnesota's Government Shutdown

Jul 6, 2011

One state park in Minnesota sustained $35,000 in damages after vandals went wild over the holiday weekend, taking advantage that the government shutdown had left the parks relatively unattended.

Minnesota Public Radio reports on the damage at Afton State Park:

Sheriff Bill Hutton said the group broke into the park on Sunday night and caused about $35,000 in damages to park buildings, including burning one of the cabins and partially removing the roof.

Hutton said the damage was among the worst he's seen.

"It's not common at all," he said. "I would suspect or highly suspect that this would've not occurred if the park would've been open because they would've had personnel there."

... 11 adults and one 17-year-old were arrested Monday morning. They could face felony burglary charges.

Minneapolis' Star-Tribune reports that vandals also hit "dozens of other state properties."

The other cases have ranged from cutting locks to secured gates being pulled from their concrete moorings. In another case, someone "added a body part" with spray paint to one Smokey Bear sign.

The Star-Tribune adds:

"This is just exactly the type of thing we're going to be seeing repeatedly as the shutdown goes forward," said Steve Morse, former lawmaker and DNR deputy commissioner who is now executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership. "It shows once again how difficult it is to extricate the state from our lives, and the problems that are going to come to light once something like this happens."

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