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15 separate incidents of vandalism and graffiti reported on Oregon Way and Cascade Drive

by: TYLER FRANCKE | WOODBURN INDEPENDENT - Paula Kilgore, a resident on Oregon Way in Woodburn, talks on her cellphone near her vandalized home and SUV Wednesday morningThe Estates, a private, 55-and-older golf club and residential community in Woodburn, was again the target of graffiti and vandalism last week — the third time in less than a year that the neighborhood has been the site of such illegal activity.

“I don’t get why they keep picking on us,” said Carol Bettandorf Wednesday morning, as she painted over a series of smiley faces and a message (“April Fools”) that had been sprayed onto her sky-blue garage door sometime the night before. “I wish I knew. We haven’t done anything; we’re just trying to live in a nice retirement community.”

One of a series of surveillance photos released by Woodburn police, related to the suspects involved with the vandalism of homes in The Estates retirement community.Bettandorf’s home on Cascade Drive, which she has shared with her husband, John, for 17 years, was also vandalized during a previous spree that occurred between June 22 and 23 of last year.

“It’s frustrating because, how do you catch them?” Bettandorf said. Bending over to wet her brush from the half-empty bucket, she added with a chuckle of resignation, “I think I’m going to have to invest in some more paint if this keeps happening.”

One of a series of surveillance photos released by Woodburn police, related to the suspects involved with the vandalism of homes in The Estates retirement community.Fourteen homes in the Estates area were also hit with graffiti in late December of last year.

In this instance, the vandals targeted homes, vehicles and golf carts on both Oregon Way and Cascade Drive, leaving profane messages and symbols in silver and gold spray paint. Other acts of vandalism included the cutting of phone and cable wires.

One of a series of surveillance photos released by Woodburn police, related to the suspects involved with the vandalism of homes in The Estates retirement community.According to police, 15 separate incidents were reported. They occurred sometime between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.

A typewritten note was also found at several of the crime scenes, claiming the acts of vandalism had been perpetrated by members of “WMD” (a suspected gang reference) and employees of the Woodburn Public Works Department, in retaliation for phone complaints and “pointing of fingers” related to the nearby Interstate 5 interchange project.

However, a press release Wednesday evening denied that the note originated from or was authorized by city staff or representatives. The note also referenced April Fools’ Day, which was Tuesday, and included the names of two Woodburn residents.

“I Especially DO NOT LIKE THE NEGATIVE INPUT AND CONSTANT (expletive) FROM MIKE BURTON AND JIM FROGGE,” the suspects wrote, followed by a string of exclamation points.

Monday morning, Frogge said that the letter’s reference to him appears to have sparked interest, even suspicion, on the part of his neighbors, with some people coming by his home and looking in his windows.

Frogge said neither he nor Burton had anything to do with the acts of vandalism, nor have they been calling Public Works to complain about the I-5 project.

“You can call City Hall, and they’ll say, ‘I’ve never heard of him,’” Frogge said.

According to Jason Horton, communications coordinator for the city, video footage of the suspects was collected from private surveillance cameras. It appears to show two adult men wearing hoodies and ski masks.

Horton said it was “too soon” to tell if this incident is connected to the previous ones, but police believe it was not gang-related.

Asked about the note, Sharon Schaub, general manager of The Estates, also repudiated the idea that the spree had been provoked by neighborhood residents’ alleged opposition to the interchange project.

“Our members have been hearing about this road construction for over 20 years,” she said. “We’ve been expecting it. We know it’s going to be inconvenient for a while, and we’ve prepared ourselves for that.”

She said the homeowners’ association is organizing a volunteer neighborhood watch, which is intended to prevent future acts of vandalism. She said these incidents have helped the community come together, and that volunteer groups were organizing quickly to remove the graffiti and repair the acts of vandalism.

Nevertheless, she admitted the repeated incidents were “disheartening.”

“I think we’re just disappointed in the behavior of some disgruntled people, that we don’t know who they are or why they’re doing this,” she said.

Paula Kilgore, a resident on Oregon Way, said she and her husband were awakened around 12:30 a.m. on the night of the crimes by a neighbor, who said one of their vehicles — a restored, 1965 Chevrolet pickup — was in the middle of the road.

Apparently, the vandals had tried to steal it, but had been unable to get the vehicle to start, she said. At that time, there had been no graffiti on the house or vehicles.

Around 6:30 a.m., she left the house for work to find a different story. One side of her 2013 Toyota RAV4 had been coated with silver spray paint — which she had initially mistook for frost — and the words “Nice truck” had been scrawled across her garage door.

A swastika and suspected gang reference had been painted on other sides of the house, and a profane statement had been added to the windshield of her golf cart.

She estimated the damage to her SUV alone at more than $2,000.

“I can’t believe what they did. It amazes me. There’s just no reason for it,” she said. “I just don’t understand someone damaging other people’s property.”

Her home had been spared graffiti during the incident in June, though one of their vehicles had lug nuts stolen from it and was pelted with pellet gun fire.

“We moved down here because we wanted to live in a nice community,” said the former Tigard resident. “But it seems that ever since we’ve been here, we’ve been dealing with vandals.”

She paused, surveyed the neighborhood for a moment, then shook her head.

“It just seems to be a pattern,” she said. “They want the attention. That’s what they’re after. And they’re getting it.”

The city is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest of individual or group responsible. Any residents with information may reach the WPD by calling 503-982-2345.

The note found at several of the crime scenes can be viewed here.

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