HIGHLAND | Police arrested two male juveniles from Munster on Friday in connection with a rash of profane graffiti in the Meadows subdivision.
Officers investigated at least 12 cases of graffiti covering garage doors, houses and vehicles that occurred overnight in the 2000 block of Azalea Drive in Highland. Additional arrests are possible, and police will seek restitution for residents, Highland police said in a news release. Damage was estimated in the thousands of dollars, according to police.
Police believe some of the suspects may have been involved in a July incident where graffiti was found in the same neighborhood and a Munster subdivision adjoining the Meadows.
Charges against the two juveniles, whose ages were not immediately available Friday, are pending, according to the news release.
Residents reported and Police Chief Peter Hojnicki confirmed the graffiti included images of penises and breasts as well as swastikas, the initials KKK and the words (expletive) the police.
Hojnicki said the juveniles were not believed to be committing hate crimes and the symbols are not gang-related.
He said more than six police officers were dedicated to the cases and the juveniles were in custody by Friday morning.
Meadows subdivision residents spent Friday cleaning off vehicles and scrubbing garage doors.
Vanessa Plantz said Friday was the second time her house was hit with graffiti. She said a police officer also discovered a large jar of gasoline in her front yard behind a bush. Hojnicki could not confirm the substance but said the jar was found.
“That was the most alarming part of it all,” Plantz said.
She said her dog started barking about 1:30 a.m. Friday, but she didn't know of the damage until her neighbor told her later that morning.
“I always thought our neighborhood was very nice and very clean and a little more upscale than most of Highland,” Plantz said. “It's just scary that they found gasoline.”
Steve Castillo's house wasn't hit, but he noticed his neighbor's vehicle and garage had been littered with graffiti. He walked to Ace Hardware on 45th Street with a friend and started helping his neighbor scrub down his vehicle and garage door.
Castillo said he's surprised the neighborhood has been a target.
“Nothing ever happens in the Meadows,” Castillo said. “It's always chill.”
Down the street, homeowner Steve Keller said he initially didn't see the graffiti on the windows of his van.
“I couldn't see it because it was still dark out,” Keller said. “They just sprayed the van mirrors and thank God left the nice car alone.”
Keller said he could tell the offenders were immature because of what they were drawing and writing. Keller said the situation made him mad, but he was choosing to look on the bright side.
“They could have done my whole van,” Keller said.
Halina Keilman, who has lived on the block for more than 30 years, said the neighbors surrounding her received damage.
“A lot of elderly people live here,” Keilman said. “They don't need this.”
Munster police may seek an unrelated charge against one or more of the juveniles from an additional incident that took place early Friday, according to the news release.
Friday's arrests come on the heels of two female juveniles being charged in July with criminal mischief after they were found spray-painting images of penises on street signs on the north end of town.
Times staff writers Chelsea Schneider Kirk and Lauri Harvey Keagle contributed to this report.