Council offers $500 reward to catch vandals

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lewisburg's City Council has donated $500 to Crime Stoppers so there's a reward for information leading to the arrest of vandals who desecrated the military tribute that names three Marshal County men who died for their country combating terror.

While addressing the Council on Tuesday night, Police Chief Chuck Forbis displayed the plaque that was recovered from Rock Creek by a city firefighter on Monday morning. The metal plaque was mounted on top of a pedestal next to the stage in Rock Creek Park.

"We always assume it's kids who do this," Forbis said, "but it's always uncalled for. The Police Department is asking Crime Stoppers to offer a reward.

"If Crime Stoppers doesn't do it, I'll do it, personally," the chief said Tuesday night.

Thursday morning, Forbis said if, for example, Crime Stoppers had $200 to post as a reward, he would provide $300, thereby increasing the organization's part of the reward to $500.

"I would add whatever it took to reach that amount," the chief said.

City Manager Eddie Fuller substantiated the chief's explanation. The reward is now at least $1,000.

It could be more, but specifics on another donor's intent were not immediately available.

"I think I will personally help with the reward, but right now, we know we have $1,000," Fuller said.

Meanwhile, "If there's a kid or anyone out there who wants to squeal and say who did it and get $1,000 we guarantee that they'll get $1,000," the city manager said.

Public sentiment, before the reward was announced, seems to have motivated some people as the police department has an active case.

"Our detectives are following up on some leads about the vandalism," Forbis said Thursday morning.

"This really offends me," he told the Council on Tuesday night when he explained that he is a veteran of military service.

Crime Stoppers' phone number is 359-4867. Police are not operating the tip line. Callers are given an identification number to help maintain their anonymity. A board of volunteers considers each case and makes arrangements for anonymous payment to people who provide information that helped solve a crime.

Calls directly to the Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division may be made by dialing 359-3800.

Mayor Barbara Woods' career was as an educator and she started her comments on Tuesday night by saying she had defended mischievous youngsters who were just having fun.

"But there's nothing funny about this," the mayor said. "It's not a joke."

Councilman Odie Whitehead moved to have the city appropriate $500 for a reward "to bring those people to justice." Councilman Robin Minor seconded the motion.

The reward idea had not been placed on the Council's agenda because when that document was created, the crime hadn't been discovered yet, so Councilman Quinn Stewart pointed out a procedural issue.

"I have absolutely no problem with offering a reward, but I don't want us to get in the habit of voting on something that's not on the agenda," she said.

"We could at least vote to suspend the rules" so a decision could be made, Stewart said.

Whitehead agreed. The rules were suspended and the vote on the original motion for a reward was adopted without objection.

"I hope the people present will get the word out," the mayor said.