Vandalism costs taking a toll on Navy
Stars and Stripes August 25, 2006
NAPLES, Italy — More than $38,000 in vandalism bills has siphoned funds from quality-of-life projects for sailors and their families at the U.S. Navy support site at Gricignano.
And the laundry list of vandalism is breaking the bank and testing the patience of base leaders.
For example, vandals repeatedly have broken the glass at several bus stop shelters, and after four replacements at 2,500 euros a pop, exasperated base officials decided bus stops will remain glassless, said Jim Porter, facilities management officer.
“I’ll be fielding a lot of complaints when people start getting rained on and the cold wind blows, but we don’t have the money to keep replacing it,” he said.
Some of it is dangerous. More than 15 street lights have been shot out with ball bearings roughly the size of a quarter.
“This one really scares me, because if he misses a light and hits a kid … it might kill them,” Porter said.
Money diverted by public works to make the repairs means roughly 20 single-sailor barracks rooms won’t be repainted for new sailors reporting to Naples, and construction for three gazebos at the Central Park complex, which residents could use for picnics and other functions are temporarily are on hold, Porter said.
Offenders — and parents in cases involving minors — will find themselves in front of the base skipper and facing an array of disciplinary options that includes paying for the repairs, performing community service, or being sent back to the States.
Recently, as a result of base residents reporting vandalism or suspicious activity, several youths have been caught and their cases are before the Civilian Misconduct Board, an ad hoc committee that investigates incidents involving non-military personnel, said Cmdr. Jeff Jackson, base executive officer.
Officials are reluctant to automatically blame youths for the vandalism, but Porter said he seriously doubts adults are out tagging buildings with spray-paint graffiti and profanity, dousing walls with corrosive orange soda, or leaving used condoms in the clock tower.
The already undermanned security department has other options at its ready. “We have other surveillance and security measures we do use, but clearly, they can’t be everywhere all the time,” Jackson said.
The support site is leased property maintained by the Italian company Mirabella, which repairs damaged facilities, and sends the bill to the Navy. There are 881 housing units on the site.
Most of the vandalism takes place at the Village Forum, most likely because it’s where most people go, Porter said. The area houses the youth center, teen center, T.G.I. Friday restaurant, temporary lodging facility, laundromat, Navy Lodge, and mini-mart, among other facilities.
“We need everyone’s help to continue to make the support site a great place to live,” Jackson said. “My expectation is that if someone sees it, report it. It is our community.”
Residents are encouraged to call the Alarm Control Center by dialing 911 from the base or 081-568-4911 from off base.