The vandals started about 1 a.m. at one end of Franklin.
For nearly four hours, they toppled picnic tables, figurines of children playing in a schoolyard and a wall in a park restroom in a swath of damage from U.S. 31 through the downtown area. They ripped a carbon dioxide tank off a restaurant, broke windows at a church and shattered the lights that illuminate the American flag. More than 24 tires were slashed. A mailbox was torn down and stomped on. Outdoor pots for cigarette butts or plants were smashed or tipped over.
More than a dozen businesses, residences, school buildings, a church and a park were hit during a vandalism spree by two men early Tuesday, police said. Two men have been arrested, and property owners have hired crews to help clean up and sent their employees to get new tires for vehicles. The damage touched U.S. 31, North Main Street, Jefferson Street and Branigin Boulevard, according to police reports. The damage at each location ranges from less than $100 to $2,000.
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Brian Shaw, 30, and Roy Burkett, 34, both of Franklin, were arrested Tuesday afternoon on a charge of criminal mischief. Video surveillance footage from four businesses show two men who matched the description of Shaw and Burkett slashing tires, tearing off chains and breaking flower pots.
Greek’s Pizzeria and Tapp Room, Superior Auto, KIC-IT, First Baptist Church, Jessen Funeral Home, Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District, The Willard, the Artcraft Theatre, the Franklin Parks and Recreation Department, Elks Lodge, two residences and three Franklin school buildings were all hit during the string of vandalism.
Enough damage was done that officers arrested Shaw and Burkett on a charge of a level 6 felony. The Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office will decide what, if any, charges to file. No one knows what prompted the destruction.
A restroom at the shelter house in Province Park was severely damaged and will need a new sink, cinder block wall and toilets before it can be functional again, Franklin Parks and Recreation Department Director Chip Orner said. The water lines into the restroom were broken and will need to be replaced, he said.
Although restrooms have been damaged before, this was the worst act of vandalism he has seen, Orner said. Typically, when someone vandalizes the restroom, only a sink or toilet is broken, he said.
The Artcraft Theatre and The Willard were victims of similar vandalism less than two weeks ago, with overturned flower pots and a broken window. Rob Shilts, executive director of Franklin Heritage, which owns the Artcraft, said a video surveillance system will be installed for better security.
“I hate to have to do that because it’s like, come on, really?” Shilts said. “Franklin is on such a meteoric rise with everything that the mayor and the city councils have done to bring this town back, and you don’t need goofy things like this to confuse people who aren’t familiar with us.”
Not only will the video surveillance system help Artcraft employees during the next crisis, Shilts said, but he hopes it can help nearby businesses too if they are vandalized.
Greek’s Pizzeria and Tapp Room owner Jason Tapp said although he’s relieved to know his business wasn’t specifically targeted by criminals, the carbon dioxide tank could have exploded and injured the vandals or damaged the building. Tapp has surveillance cameras facing his back door in the alley behind the restaurant, and the video shows two men walk by the restaurant at 4:26 a.m., tear the tank away from the building and keep walking. All of the damage was caused in about 10 seconds, Tapp said.
“I don’t think they had a care in the world that night,” Tapp said. “Just a quick 10 seconds (for them), but it did significant damage for me.”
Once the tank was ripped away from the building, the restaurant’s 30-tap draft beer station and soda fountain drinks were unable to be used, Tapp said. Even the backup tank in the basement of the restaurant was unusable due to how the other tank was taken away, Tapp said.
Jessen Funeral Home owner John Jessen said he feels fortunate that he received some of the lesser damage compared with other businesses and homes, he said.
“I felt pretty lucky with just our plants and our benches flipped over,” Jessen said.
Shaw, 407 N. Vaught St., and Burkett, 550½ W. Adams St., remained Wednesday in the Johnson County jail on $2,400 bond each.
More than a dozen buildings were vandalized early Tuesday, and two men were arrested. Here’s a look at what damage was caused at each building:
The Artcraft Theatre
Tray door to box office was pushed in
Concrete flower pots knocked over
First Baptist Church
Five storm windows were broken
Franklin Community Middle School
Rope cut on flagpole, three lights broken
Franklin Community School Corp. administration building
Flag lowered on flagpole
Franklin Parks and Recreation Department
Three vans had tires slashed, bicycle rack and garbage cans knocked over
Greek’s Pizzeria and Tapp Room
Carbon dioxide tank turned over and pulled away from the building
Home Avenue residence
Two windows in garage door broken
Jessen Funeral Home
Four plants knocked over and bench thrown from porch
Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District
Two vehicles vandalized. One was keyed, and a tire was slashed. Other vehicle had a bicycle rack thrown through a side window.
Four tires slashed on work van
Northwood Elementary School
At least six figurines knocked over in front yard, trash cans and flower pots knocked over
Restroom destroyed in a shelter house, including broken sink, toilets and cinder block wall
Tore mailbox off the building and stomped on it, knocked over cigarette ashtray and unplugged bird sensor
Water Street residence
Landscape light broken, tree damaged, yard ornaments knocked over and bench flipped over
Seven decorative planters broken, privacy chain and cigarette tray knocked over and patio table flipped