SPOKANE, Wash.-- A growing vandalism problem in parks across Spokane took an unusual turn when vandals started targeting park bathrooms. KREM 2 On Your Side learned in August that thieves were stealing brass pipes from the bathrooms and selling them for cash, costing the City and the taxpayer thousands of dollars.
Parks and Recreation leaders said they dealt with more than 30 of these theft instances during the summer of 2014 alone, spreading a feeling of unrest among frequent park visitors, like Jamal Black.
“It definitely affects me a lot,” Black said. “It makes me not want to bring my kids here. It makes me drive by instead of stopping in and appreciating it.”
Security guards began locking the bathrooms at Thornton Murphy park and guarding them during the night. Parks and Recreation leaders said they spent more than $15,000 on the added security and replacing the stolen pipes, which can cost as much as $500 each.
Scrap Metal dealer Bob Barker said the brass appeals to thieves because it is readily available.
“It’s something you find everywhere,” Barker said. “You’ll find it in every bathroom in the country and it’s not something people think of protecting.”
The Department of Parks and Recreation teamed up with scrap metal experts, like Barker, to find a less costly solution. They replaced the copper pipes with plastic ones on Thursday, just three days after the most recent theft.