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Highland City asks parents to talk to children after spike in vandalism

HIGHLAND, Utah — Highland City called on parents to speak to their children Tuesday about a spike in vandalism at its parks since the start of the pandemic.

In a city where it’s easy to see the beauty, there is growing concern over how easy it’s become to see the opposite.

Assistant city administrator Erin Wells said Highland has always seen vandalism here and there.

A couple of years ago, they might have spent around $5,000 per year to clean up the damage.

But Wells said, “when schools locked down because of COVID a year ago, we saw an uptick in vandalism.”

More recently, city officials have wondered whether TikTok challenges may also be contributing to teenagers vandalizing property.

This year, Highland has already spent around $10,000 on fixing and cleaning damage, and that does not include the cost of labor.

“The most common one is signs being stolen,” said Wells.

But they also see damage to bathroom fixtures, graffiti, damaged fences, and most recently, damage to grass and sprinkler systems. People are driving motorcycles, UTVs and other vehicles through the fields at Beacon Hill Park.

Wells assumes the perpetrators are teenagers and wants them to realize, “it’s your parents tax dollars that we use to build our parks, and it’s going to be your parents tax dollars that we now have to use to fix all the vandalism.”

At Highland Glenn Park, the city installed a gate on the road leading to the playground, bathrooms and pond.

They’re still working to install signs, warning people of the times the gate will lock up.

The city has also looked into installing surveillance cameras.

And most recently, they posted to social media, asking parents to speak to their children.

“We’re asking parents who have influence over their kids to help them understand the long-term consequences of what they’re doing,” said Wells. “Help them understand the cost of this — not just the monetary cost, but the cost it is to our city, right? You take away civic pride when you damage our facilities.”

The city is asking people who may have information on any of the vandalism incidents to contact police.

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