Rockaway Beach’s Old Growth Cedar Tree Tagged with Graffiti July 4th; Police Investigating, Ongoing Vandalism, Break-ins Continue to Plague Area

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Rockaway Beach city public works will be taking care of removing the graffiti today, Monday July 6th according to city manager Luke Shepard. From consulting with local arborists, the tagging can be removed with wire brushes. Residents in the area are asked to review their camera footage on July 4th in the area of the Nature Preserve, and contact Rockaway Beach Police if anything suspicious is found.
On Saturday July 4, 2020 at approximately 10:00 AM, the Rockaway Beach Police Department responded to reports of graffiti on the old growth cedar tree in the Nature Preserve on the south end of Rockaway Beach. The natural layout of the area and design of the paths that take visitors through the preserve and the general feeling of being outside of town have unfortunately lent to criminal activity in the preserve. In late June 2020, graffiti on a different tree and on the boardwalk was reported. In mid-June 2020, one car window was broken and another vehicle was entered with a purse being stolen. In that same timeframe, a vehicle break-in with a similar set of circumstances occurred at a house just south of the Nature Preserve. An arrest was made in that case with the help of businesses in Tillamook County that provided footage from their video surveillance systems.

Earlier this year, suspects from an armed home invasion attempted to elude capture by maneuvering through the nature preserve. Since the preserve has opened, a stolen vehicle has been recovered in the parking lot, bikes have been recovered from the bushes and instances of graffiti carved into the railing have been reported. Some of these cases are still actively under investigation, therefore, no further information will be released at this time.
Chief Stewart noted early in the design phase that a video surveillance system in the preserve would help deter or detect criminal activity and assist with apprehension of persons involved. Chief Stewart is interested in working with the community and city staff to help find ways to minimize this type of activity from occurring. He feels the isolation of the different paths and viewing areas will likely continue to draw people willing to engage in criminal acts.