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Teen charged in Girls Inc. vandalism

KEVIN CASTLE • Apr 3, 2007 at 12:18 PM

KINGSPORT - The Kingsport Police Department has arrested the culprit allegedly responsible for one of several vandalism incidents at Girls Inc.

Information released by the KPD and Detective Chris Tincher states a 15-year-old male was arrested Friday and was charged with three misdemeanors connected with a break-in at the building on Jan. 15.

Girls Inc. President and CEO Julie Short said the vandalism inside the building's largest wing resulted in damages totaling over $1,000.

"The most costly repair we had to face after that particular incident was the damage done to the gym floor. Apparently, when the person who did this decided to spray the contents of the gym's fire extinguisher all over, the chemical landed on the floor and just stripped the varnish off of it," said Short.

Although the damage was costly, a Girls Inc. volunteer and contributor completed the chore of refinishing the floor out of their own pocket.

"Once again, if not for our faithful volunteers, it could have left us in quite a financial spot," Short said.

Besides destroying the varnish on the gym floor, the juvenile is also accused of stealing various items from two adjoining classrooms and two basketballs from the gym.

Tincher said the juvenile was taken into custody at his parents' home, which he said is in the same neighborhood as Girls Inc.

The teenager has been officially charged with one count each of burglary, theft under $500, and vandalism under $500. He is scheduled to appear in juvenile court on May 7.

Short says the agency continues to struggle somewhat with finances since some contingency funding had to be withdrawn to deal with the series of vandalism incidents that have taken place at the center since late last year.

She had considered suspending some activities at the agency, which serves over 100 girls each day, but some additional contributions from businesses and local residents have helped.

The damage inflicted by vandals included crashing a lawnmower and breaking into a Girls Inc. activity bus and trashing the vehicle by painting on tables and building a fire in the middle of the bus floor.

Increased patrols by the Kingsport Police Department and other measures have resulted in no criminal activities after hours at the building recently.

"Again, we can't thank the police enough for what they have done to make this place safe," said Short.

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