FARGO — Once again, a longtime pizzeria in downtown Fargo has been hit by vandals, but this time Teresa Tilock believes the suspect will be arrested.
Sammy’s Pizza, 301 Broadway N., had its windows smashed twice in 2020. In the past, fences have been torn down and the century-old facade has been spray-painted twice since 2019. In the latest case, which s is produced on June 12, its brick facade was vandalized by graffiti spraying.
A business owner’s security cameras caught the vandal in the act, said Tilock, owner of Sammy’s Pizza.
“If somebody wants to vandalize or do graffiti, they’re going to get caught because of all the commercial cameras downtown,” Tilock said.
The surveillance footage was turned over to the Fargo Police Department, which reported the case was sent to the Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office. So far, however, no charges have been filed, the office reported.
The most recent case of vandalism is particularly disappointing for Tilock as construction workers spent two months repairing the building in 2021.
“Grouting work was carried out last year to restore, maintain and beautify the building. The building is over 100 years old and we want to preserve Fargo’s history by keeping the building in pristine condition,” Tilock said.
The pizzeria is said to be the first pizzeria in the state and has been in the same location for 66 years. Tilock has owned the business for 43 years, she said.
The June 12 graffiti was spray painted onto decorative brickwork, and “the paint just soaked in,” Tilock said.
Tilock said she was happy with how the investigation had gone so far, but that “due to the multiple locations that were spray painted and the cost of the damage that was done, fines should be stiffer and restitution should be made.”
Crimes like spray painting and damaging public or private property can be charged with criminal mischief. It could be a Class C felony if the suspect intentionally causes a monetary loss in property damage over $2,000 without using an explosive or destructive device, according to the North Dakota Century Code.
The crime is defined as a Class A misdemeanor if property suffers a loss of more than $2,000 through recklessness, or if a suspect intentionally causes property loss of up to $2,000, otherwise the offense may be classified as a class B misdemeanor.
The maximum penalty for a Class C felony is five years imprisonment and a fine of $10,000 or both.
Class A misdemeanors carry a fine of up to $3,000 and up to 360 days in jail, according to the Century Code. A Class B misdemeanor conviction carries a $1,500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
Victor Heitkamp, director of operations for the Downtown Fargo Business Improvement District, or BID, said small-scale vandalism happens often, but mostly in the form of stickers on lampposts. Lately, BID employees removed more than 250 stickers, he said.
“I think downtown is safer now than it has ever been. Why is that? I do not know. Downtown is very crowded and with people comes increased security. Usually it seems like when there’s vandalism, it’s when people aren’t there,” Heitkamp said.
Adding surveillance cameras and additional programs like the Fargo Mobile Outreach Program, a division of Fargo Cass Public Health’s Risk Reduction Division, or art covering utility boxes also helps, he said. declared.
“I think people know they’re being watched,” Heitkamp said, referring to other instances of vandalism in recent weeks, including a broken window, which was a targeted attack.
“I think it comes down to what the current laws are in Fargo and then having the ability to enforce them. I think the police department does a really good job of taking situations like that and using them to educate and stop the behavior,” Heitkamp said.
“You have to be very careful when it comes to bricks. You can still destroy and burn something,” Heitkamp said, referring to the process required to clean spray paint from bricks. BID uses a product called Elephant Snot, which is lathered onto sidewalks and then pressure washed, he said.
Tilock doesn’t know how much it will cost him to clean up the graffiti and doubts the spray paint can be cleaned up, adding, “There has to be a restitution. We have cameras all over downtown and we’ll find the perpetrators.”
The Fargo Police Department said cameras are in place throughout downtown that officers can use while searching for evidence. Some cameras are owned by the city, and some are owned by private companies and residential compounds, spokeswoman Katie Ettish said.
“I don’t want the ball to drop,” Tilock said.