More graffiti and other vandalism found in the area, WKU professor discusses impact of vandalism on crime

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – You may remember back in May, a man spray painted political messages on several buildings and sidewalks in downtown Bowling Green. Well, it is possible the same man may have struck again.

On Fieldcrest Drive and Curling Way, some locals noticed spray painted political messages on the roadway.

The lettering is very similar, as you can see on your screen.

The downtown graffiti reports were handled by the Bowling Green Police Department, while this new graffiti is in the county and is being investigated by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

Bowling Green Police say they know who the man is who graffitied downtown, but no arrests have been made as they wait for on estimates from one of the businesses damaged.

Sheriff Brett Hightower says they cannot confirm that the tagger is the same man who spray painted downtown at this time but he is looking into it.

“It costs hundreds of dollars anytime you put the man hours in it, and the response and then tying somebody up to look at it and do the investigation and do a report on it. And then having someone come out and clean that up off the roadway, it’s very costly and just unnecessary in this situation,” said Hightower.

If you live in the area and saw anything or have surveillance video of the person responsible for the new graffiti in the county, the sheriff’s office ask that you call them.

Graffiti isn’t the only vandalism going on in the county. One local church experienced some damage recently too.

About a week ago, someone drove through the grass of a local church on either side of the building and even behind the church creating large ruts in the ground and causing damage.

Pastor John Lowe says he doesn’t know why someone would do this to his church.

“At first you kind of get mad in some ways because of what somebody would do to God’s property. But then you look at it and then you begin to think, “OK, why did they do it? What will it take to get this fixed back?” And so on. And you just don’t understand a lot of things sometimes of why people do what they do,” said Lowe.

One issue that comes with vandalism and destruction is that when things are disorganized, damaged or vandalized and not cleaned up or fixed, it can correspond with a rise in crime, according to a psychological theory explained by Western Kentucky University criminology professor James Kanan called the broken window theory.

“The idea behind broken windows is that these signs of incivilities like vandalism, like broken windows, like dilapidation might be interpreted by potential offenders, or likely interpreted by potential offenders, as less risky places to engage in the crimes that they are going to engage in,” said Kanan.

When it comes to the spray-painted graffiti downtown, the city cleaned it up quickly.

Unfortunately, that vandal may have struck again in the county, but even so, Kanan doesn’t believe it is an issue for the citizens to be concerned with.

“If they can link it to him and they can make an arrest, it’ll stop. By contrast, if you got an area with dilapidated houses and broken houses, the crime is not going to, they are going to make arrests all day long, and the crimes going to keep coming in part because of that’s how, sort of, what the broken windows theory is about,” said Kanan.

Kanan said citizens should work together to keep your own properties, neighborhoods and county clean and organized as a whole in an effort to not invite crime into your neighborhood.