LA PLATA, Md. (Sept. 11, 2007) - The Charles County Sheriffs Office today announced the arrest of four juveniles on charges of spray-painting offensive language in a residential area in August.
The accused juveniles are males between the ages of 14 and 16 and all live in Waldorf. Three of them are black, the fourth is white. They were charged on Saturday, Sept. 8 with four counts of committing a hate crime and 21 counts of destruction of property valued at more than $500. All of the victims were black.
On Friday, Aug. 24 at 4:08 a.m., officers responded to a residence in the 2400 block of Rabbits Run Street in Waldorf when a citizen reported her vehicle had been spray painted and her mailbox had been destroyed. Upon arrival, officers canvassed the Wexford Village neighborhood, where the residence is located, and discovered about 16 other vehicles, mailboxes and driveways that had been vandalized with spray-paintings of obscene phrases, drawings and other random markings. KKK and Gay Pride had been spray painted on four of the vehicles.
So-called hate crimes are differentiated from normal crimes, destruction of property in this case, in that they are intended to harass or intimidate an entire class of people, i.e. African-Americans or homosexuals.
Officers identified the juveniles based on an anonymous tip obtained through a student crime solvers program administered by the Sheriffs Office, Charles County Public Schools, and Charles County Crime Solvers. Students have access to a tip box where they can anonymously submit information in writing about a crime in which another student may be involved.
The program works like Charles County Crime Solvers; students who provide tips that result in an arrest are eligible for a reward of up to $500. The program, which began during the last school year, has helped officers solve several other less severe crimes.
It is offered at all high schools and one middle school but the Sheriffs plans to expand the program to all middle schools this school year.
Students or parents who have questions about the program may contact Cpl. Don Kabala, a school resource officer and the Sheriffs Offices Crime Solvers liaison, at 301-609-3282, Ext. 292.