If you know something, say something

Published 10:10 pm Thursday, August 28, 2014

Elementary schools are hives of activity in the last week before school starts.

Teachers are busy putting up bulletin board displays, organizing bookshelves, finalizing lesson plans and all the myriad other details designed to make all their hard work transparent to the children who soon will be occupying desks on the first day of school.

Faculty members are making the inevitable last-minute changes to class rosters, finalizing schedules, attending to teachers’ needs and beginning the hard work of interpreting Standards of Learning results and incorporating necessary changes into the curriculum.

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Maintenance and custodial workers are busy shining floors, cleaning lockers and cubbyholes and sanitizing restrooms. Cafeteria workers are putting the finishing touches on menus, testing recipes and ordering ingredients. Bus drivers are test-driving their routes, checking out mechanical issues with their buses and matching up the names of their riders with the addresses listed on their route sheets.

It’s safe to say that none of these people has a lot of extra time on their hands this time of year to deal with the results of vandalism. But that’s exactly what some Suffolk school employees faced on Tuesday when administrators at Northern Shores Elementary School arrived at the facility to find vulgar messages spray-painted on playground equipment, a school-mascot dolphin statue and a stop sign near the school.

Maintenance workers had to be detailed to scrub away the graffiti before students arrive this Tuesday. It was an unnecessary, expensive and time-consuming distraction at a time when workers didn’t really have the time to spare.

Which is not to say that there’s any appropriate time to have to take care of graffiti.

Someone in the Northern Shores community knows who painted the messages. Kids talk, and they can hardly wait to share their exploits with their friends. And friends often talk to parents. So there’s a good chance that some adults in that community know who committed these acts of vandalism. If so, they have a moral obligation to their neighbors and fellow taxpayers to share that information with police.

Vandalism is not a victimless crime. Taxpayers share the burden of the cost of removing the offensive messages, and children and others are unnecessarily exposed to vulgarities during the time it takes to get them removed. This wasn’t a harmless prank, and it should not go unpunished.

If you know something about the vandals — or if you have a solid suspicion about them — call Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP or text the keyword SPDVATIP and the tip to 274637 (CRIMES). Tipsters never have to give their names or appear in court, and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.