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Vandals target Utah family vehicle with slurs — twice

Aug 21, 2023, 7:07 PM

SANDY, Utah — A Sandy family is feeling shocked and heartbroken after someone spray painted vulgar messages on their son’s vehicle over the weekend.

“Oh my gosh I was shocked; this stuff doesn’t happen in our neighborhood,” Deana Gardner said.

The Gardner’s home and vehicle in Sandy’s Willow Creek area were first targeted on Thursday night, between 11:05 p.m. to 11:08 p.m., the family’s doorbell security camera captured the moment one of the vandals threw an egg at their front door. A neighbor saw the commotion and chased the vandals away. But then Friday morning, the family woke to text messages about the damage.

“We went outside and saw that unfortunately not only had the car been spray painted but with a pretty vulgar homophobic slur,” Gardner said.

The family called Sandy Police Department and filed a report, they also purchased more security cameras. Friday night, before they were installed, the vandals returned and tagged the vehicle with homophobic slurs and images a second time.

“They did it again and my heart sank,” Gardner said. “It is hurtful, it’s hurtful to anybody who maybe saw that and is hurting even more on a personal level.”

The Garnder's SUV spray painted with hateful language. (Courtesy: The Gardner Family) The Garnder's SUV spray painted with hateful language. (Courtesy: The Gardner Family) The Garnder's SUV spray painted with hateful language. (Courtesy: The Gardner Family) The Garnder's SUV spray painted with hateful language. (Courtesy: The Gardner Family) The Garnder's SUV spray painted with hateful language. (Courtesy: The Gardner Family)

Sandy police are now investigating the crimes and the case has been assigned to a property crimes investigator.

“We’re not going to tolerate it in our city,” Sgt. Greg Moffitt said.

He said the vandalism doesn’t fit the legal definition of a hate crime because nobody in the Gardner’s home identifies as LGBTQ, but he said detectives are still investigating the attack as if it is one.

“Anything that has to do with hate, whether it’s a crime of violence or a crime of hate, we’re not going to stand for it,” Moffitt said. “We’re going to take a stance on it and were going in investigate those crimes.”

For the Gardner family, the attacks are upsetting, especially for their son. They have their suspicions of who may be behind them but are still trying to collect evidence, they ask parents of Brighton High School students to speak with their children about what’s happened and report any information to police.

“For him it was heartbreaking to think who knows me enough to know this is my car, but also has this amount of hate for me and would do something like this,” Gardner said.

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Vandals target Utah family vehicle with slurs — twice