Arboretum vandalism

Vandals defaced a sign at the East Texas Arboretum and Botanical Society. Several of the Arboretum’s property have been spray painted and stolen.

Courtesy Photo
Athens Review, Athens, Texas

The East Texas Arboretum and Botanical Society has been the site of vandalism and burglary recently that left structures defaced and property missing.

The Athens Police Department received a report June 14, that unknown persons had spray painted words and gang symbols there. On June 19, a shed on the property was burglarized and various garden tools, a lawn mower and a wheel barrow were taken.

Arboretum Executive Director Teresa Glasgow said the spray painting is of particular concern because the Arboretum is designed to be attractive to people who visit the city. She said the damage included spray paint on the suspension bridge, the bog over-look, on many signs and even the trees on the nature trails.

“I got a call the day after the spray painting from a couple who had been out on the trail,” Glasgow said. “They said they saw two people on the suspension bridge throwing something into the creek. It was a spray paint can.”

Glasgow notified APD which has investigated several graffiti painting incidents in recent months.

Some of the spray paint writings are thought to be names of gangs.

“I don’t know if its them or not, but that’s what they’re writing,” Glasgow said.

She said spray paint was used to black out the writing on many signs at the Arboretum.

“Last year we got about a $2,000 grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife,” Glasgow said. “I was able to put a lot of new signs on the trail and had a lot of people come and help us put them out. It’s disturbing.”

Glasgow asks that if you are visiting the trails or gardens and witness any vandalism being committed, please call the Athens police department at 903-675-5454 and do not confront the person or persons committing the act.

“I don’t know what we can do about it,” she said. “Have people watch out for it and report it.”

The crimes at the Arboretum have come at a time when wildlife is also causing damage to the vegetation.

“This has been a challenging year for us already, deer have been busy eating many of our plants,” she said. “We have also battled the wild hogs, that have created major destruction several times this year.”

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