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Sheriff's office investigating dozens of acts of graffiti
The number 1 and a heart have been spray painted on property across San Juan County
FARMINGTON — The San Juan County Sheriff's Office is investigating a case involving dozens of acts of graffiti spray painted across the county.
A sheriff's office post to its Facebook page on Oct. 19 seeks information on locations where symbols including the number 1 and a heart were spray painted, vandalizing property.
A person of interest has been identified, and the sheriff's office will release the name once charges have been filed in the case, according to Detective Lt. Kyle Lincoln.
Lincoln said the sheriff's office isn't against the positive message the person of interest was trying to spread but added vandalism is a crime.
There are about 30 to 50 incidents the sheriff's office have identified as possible acts of vandalism, according to Detective Ethan Fincher.
The incidents of graffiti have appeared all over the county, and the sheriff's office has been investigating the incidents for about three months.
Incidents have been reported in areas ranging from near the Colorado-New Mexico state line to the vicinity of the intersection of County Road 5500 and U.S. Highway 64, as well as in parts of Kirtland and Farmington, Fincher said.
Most of the incidents appear to be aimed at such items as Dumpsters, mailboxes and concrete barricades, Fincher said.
He added Dumpsters and signs on private property have been vandalized, but no vehicles or buildings have been vandalized.
The graffiti also has appeared on a billboard for J.A. Jewelers and Co. in Farmington along U.S. Highway 64 on the east side of Farmington and on a Dumpster outside T.J. Maxx in Farmington. Other targets include a concrete barrier at the intersection of U.S. Highway 64 and County Road 350, and a mailbox along U.S. Highway 64.
John Kinney, co-owner of J.A. Jewelers and Co., said he's been hesitant to replace the billboard because it might be vandalized again. The sign has been vandalized twice, according to Kinney.
Workers attempted to remove the graffiti the first time it was vandalized but found their work was damaging the sign and stopped. The cost to replace the billboard is about $1,000.
Kinney said it was a disappointment to spend the money on a billboard and have someone deface it. He said he did not know when the company will replace the billboard, adding the company has been managing its expenses carefully.
"We're trying to survive in down times," Kinney said.
The sheriff's office is in the process of documenting incidents and determining the cost of damages for the incidents, Fincher said.
Local law enforcement agencies, including the Farmington Police Department, have been working with the sheriff's office, keeping the possible criminal charges limited to one case instead of multiple cases.
The sheriff's office still needs to finalize details with the San Juan County District Attorney's Office before charges are filed, Lincoln said.
Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call nonemergency dispatch at 505-334-6622.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.