An increase in vandalism, property damage and thefts has police and downtown Kennewick businesses on the lookout, but nobody knows why this continues to happen in an otherwise calm area.
Several businesses first noticed the word “slick” painted across outside windows and walls Sept. 19 and 20. There have been at least 13 cases of vandalism that could be tied to the same person or group, police said.
Burglars also broke into two businesses recently.
The Downtown Diner, at 20 S. Auburn St., lost an undisclosed amount of cash, food and alcohol on Sept. 13, police said. A suspicious fire then destroyed the diner’s kitchen Sept. 16, forcing it to temporarily close.
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Other community members started a GoFundMe page to help with repairs. They raised $835 of their $3,000 goal by Sept. 23. The Village Bistro Tri-Cities is also donating 10 percent of its Sept. 24 sales to the diner.
DaKind Shop, a smoking supplies store at 309 W. Kennewick Ave., lost an unknown amount of goods and had glass on its front door shattered on Sept. 19. Police are still looking for at least two teen boys caught on camera during the break-in.
The burglaries and vandalism appear to be unrelated, said Kennewick police Sgt. Randy Maynard.
“It’s not to say they’re not connected,” Maynard said. “We just don’t have the pieces to connect them yet.”
Police also don’t believe the events are gang-related, since unique symbols or markings often appear on gang tags, Maynard said.
The Graffiti Abatement Program, coordinated through the Benton-Franklin Juvenile Justice Center, works to remove vandalism in a timely manner after it’s found, Maynard said.
Skip Novakovich, who runs Esprit Graphics at 110 N. Cascade St., discovered that his building had been vandalized early in the week. He called the incidents downtown “extremely depressing.”
“I have no idea why this is going on right now, because it has been calm for a long time,” Novakovich said. “We haven’t had any problems for years and years that I know of.”
The more reports the city of Kennewick gets in our area, the more they will patrol it. And we definitely need to get some more patrols downtown.
Dan Smith, executive director, Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership
The Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership has also kept an eye on the break-ins and vandalism, said Executive Director Dan Smith. He’s frustrated because he’s always known downtown Kennewick as a safe area.
“I still see downtown as being a safe place,” Smith said. “We’ve made some serious strides into cleaning up the downtown lately. This isn’t something that’s going to stop that or hinder it — it’s just something we want to clean up as soon as possible.”
Smith recommends residents, store staff and business owners call police if they notice anything odd. He also said businesses should report all losses, large or small, to police — no matter what.
“They need to report it,” Smith said. “The more reports the city of Kennewick gets in our area, the more they will patrol it. And we definitely need to get some more patrols downtown.”
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 509-628-0333.
“People call us all the time with tips and information because they know we’ll act on it,” Maynard said. “We work really, really hard over the years to build and foster the trust of the people we serve.”