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Vandals covered a bathroom stall in paint at the Hearthside Park building. Bulletin photo by Scott Wente

UPDATE: Vandals strike again at Cottage Grove park

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crime and courts Cottage Grove, 55016
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

Cottage Grove police are stepping up enforcement of late night youth curfews after a second consecutive night of messy vandalism at a city park building.

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Vandals splattered the exterior of the Hearthside Park building with streaks of paint late Monday or early Tuesday, the Cottage Grove Police Department says -- just a day after city workers had worked furiously to clean up an incident the previous night when vandals had covered the building's interior walls and floor with paint used for children's activities the night before the city's Parks and Recreation programs began.

Cottage Grove Parks and Recreation Director Zac Dockter estimated total damages from the two incidents at around $1,700.

"Shame on you for doing this," read a post Tuesday on the Cottage Grove Police Department's Facebook page, "and shame on you who know the people doing it and not caring enough about your city to stop it!"

The initial incident occurred sometime Sunday night or early Monday morning when police say at least two people broke into the building through a window and squirted bottled paint on the walls and all over the bathrooms. Glue was also squirted around inside the building.

Police took photographs of the damage and hoped that shoe prints could help identify the vandals. The vandals also used paint to write obscenities and drug references outside the building.

Police say the rash of vandalism means officers will be strictly enforcing the city's curfew regulations. The youth curfews are:

- Under 12: 9 p.m.- 5 a.m., Sunday through Thursday; 10 p.m.- 5 a.m., Friday and Saturday;

- Ages 12-14: 11 p.m.-5 a.m., seven days-a-week;

- Ages 15-16: 11 p.m.- 5 a.m., Sunday through Thursday; 12 a.m.- 5 a.m., Friday and Saturday;

The park building is at Hearthside Road and Hillside Trail. It has been broken into several times in recent months, but the latest incident saw the most vandalism. Previous incidents involved vandals spraying the fire extinguisher and smoking in the building.

The windows were locked, but the vandals were able to get one of the sliding windows open.

Hearthside has not typically been a frequent target of vandalism, Dockter said, in part because of its high visibility. He said his department plans to install additional lighting and other deterrents in an attempt to staunch the recent wave of vandalism.

There was at least one bright spot for city officials: neither incident impacted summer park programs at Hearthside, which kicked off Monday.

"We were able to get both parks and recreation programs started at 8 a.m.," Dockter said. "So we got those off without a hitch, at least."

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