Beach house vandalized overnight; closes early

Photos by Eileen O’Grady (above) and Brandon Tieso (below)
A vandal or vandals tore wood siding, spray-painted the beach house entry (left), and ransacked the office area (right) overnight Sunday into Monday. The sign on the door reads: “The bathrooms will be closed for the remainder of the season due to valdalism. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Vermont State Police are investigating an act of vandalism and burglary that occurred at Charlotte Beach sometime between 10 p.m. Sunday night and 10 a.m. Monday morning, leaving the beach house damaged and $50 in cash gone.

Summer beach attendant Brandon Tieso discovered the vandalism when he arrived at work on Monday morning.  “I walked up to the beach house and noticed that a decent amount of siding had been torn off, exposing the inside of the house,” Tieso explained. “And the door had been spray-painted with a large, white smiley face.”

The beach house contains the public restrooms and changing space for beachgoers, along with a small office area for beach staff. In the office area, Tieso noticed that some papers were in disarray, as if they had been rifled through in a search. A wallet containing $50 in cash, which staff used to make change for beachgoers, was gone, he said.

Charlotte beach house office

Tieso immediately alerted his boss, Charlotte Recreation Director Nicole Conley, who soon arrived, and in turn called Vermont State Police. When police arrived, they discovered that the burglar had used a screwdriver to pry some boards off the structure and had apparently climbed in through the opening, according to Tieso.

Police examined the scene, taking photos and checking for fingerprints, but according to Sgt. Julie Hammond of the Williston Barracks, there isn’t much information to work with. “There was no evidence that was able to be collected on the scene,” she said. “Right now we have absolutely no leads.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, state police had not issued any press release about the crime report to notify the public. They responded to an inquiry from The Citizen after word circulated in the community via Front Porch Forum.

Tieso, a college student from Charlotte who has worked at the beach for the past two years, says that vandalism is fairly common, occurring about once or twice a year. “It’s usually just minor things. People have cut chains or done doughnuts in the upper lot and destroyed some of the turf,” he said. “This is bigger.”

According to Conley, the damage was serious enough for the beach house to be closed for the remainder of the season. She didn’t have an estimate yet of what it will cost to fix and clean up the damage and whether it would be covered by insurance.

Members of the Charlotte Recreation Commission are shaken by the incident, which occurred seemingly without a motive. Commission Chair Bill Fraser-Harris posted a notice on Front Porch Forum Monday asking anyone who has any information about the vandalism to contact either Conley or the State Police.

“Hard to imagine the mentality of people like this,” Fraser-Harris wrote. “Let’s try to catch them and put a stop to it.”

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