Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Whatever compulsion it is that motivates vandals is one of the more perplexing of human traits.

On the roster of crimes, vandalism, because it targets objects rather than people or animals, ranks relatively low.

Yet it is the utter mindlessness of such acts that's so puzzling.

Annoying, too - especially when the target is a publicly owned park that opened just a few weeks ago.

Well, we're plenty annoyed by the damage that some thoughtless people have inflicted on Baker City's Central Park this summer.

They have ridden bicycles across soft ground newly seeded with grass, carving ruts.

They've also defaced picnic tables with graffiti.

Police Chief Wyn Lohner said he plans to have officers increase their surveillance at the park.

That's a good idea.

Perhaps police will catch someone in the act of committing what's known, per Oregon law, as criminal mischief.

The potential penalties can be significant, depending on the cost to repair the damage - up to a year in jail and a $6,250 fine.

Imposing such a punishment on even one vandal should serve as a pretty effective deterrent.

Unfortunately, police can't (and shouldn't) keep an eye on the park

around the clock, so there will always be a chance for people to

exercise their stupidity in anonymity.

We as citizens can help, though.

If you see someone mis-using the park, call the police department's non-emergency number at 541-523-3644.

As for the vandals, whether current or prospective, we say: If you must

show your artistic ability, please do so on paper rather than picnic

tables. Perhaps your work is good enough to sell.

And if you like to bike in mud, there's a few thousand acres of it every spring out at Virtue Flat.