By BILL SHEA
Fort Dodge residents and businesses have pledged about $1,700 as a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever painted racist graffiti on a local family's camper Thursday.
The owners of Metal Workz, a Fort Dodge auto body shop, have offered to cover any repair costs not paid for by the family's insurance.
"Fort Dodge is outraged over this," City Councilman Andy Fritz said Friday. "I'm so happy that the people are standing up and saying we're not putting up with this."
Fritz said the person who committed the crime must be "some Neanderthal guy."
To report information
Call the Fort Dodge Police Department at 573-1426 or Webster County Crime Stoppers. Crime Stoppers can be contacted by calling 573-1444, visiting www.wccrimestoppers.com or by texting LEC and the tip to CRIMES (274637).
The incident that sparked the public response was reported to police at 2:29 p.m. Thursday. Officers were dispatched to 214 Second St. N.W., where they found graffiti that included racial slurs and swastikas painted on a Yellowstone brand Country Club camper. The graffiti was sprayed onto three sides of the vehicle.
In a written statement, Police Chief Tim Carmody said it appeared that the vandalism was committed between midnight and 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
Carmody said the incident is considered a hate or bias crime. He said the people who own the property at 214 Second St. N.W. are black.
However, the damaged camper is not owned by that family. It is owned by the Quennel McCaleb family, of Fort Dodge, according to Fritz.
"Incidents like this are heartbreaking for victims, our community and our department," Carmody said. "They are also a strong reminder that we must stand together as a community to prevent, investigate and prosecute crimes and criminals."
He said investigators could have started working on the situation earlier if it had been reported to them when it initially happened.
"This is also a grim reminder of why it is so important for community members to report suspicious activity as soon as they observe it," he said. "Allow your public safety partners to decide how to most effectively respond."
According to Fritz, the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandals was about $1,700 as of Friday evening. He said City Attorney Mark Crimmins got the reward fund started by pledging $100. Other residents and businesses quickly chipped in.
Corey Pratt, the co-owner of Metal Workz at 3375 Fifth Ave. S., said he told McCaleb that his company would be willing to absorb any repair costs not covered by insurance.
"That way, he doesn't have any out-of-pocket expenses," Pratt said.
Pratt said he has had property stolen or vandalized in the past
"So I know what they're going through," he said Friday.
Anyone with information about this incident or other suspicious activity in the area should contact the Fort Dodge Police Department at 573-1426 or Webster County Crime Stoppers. Crime Stoppers can be contacted by calling 573-1444, visiting www.wccrimestoppers.com or by texting LEC and the tip to CRIMES (274637).