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Tamaqua playground damaged by vandals

    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Justin Startzel shows the inflatable Santa Claus decoration slashed by vandals Friday night.
Published December 26. 2011 05:02PM

Vandals caused over $500 worth of damage to Christmas decorations and a metal fence at the South Ward Playground Friday night in Tamaqua.

A neighbor who wishes to remain anonymous called 911 after seeing three male teens use a knife to slash the park's inflatable Christmas decorations, cut Christmas lights and knock the park's Christmas tree over at about 10 p.m.

He said the vandals ran off after he yelled to them that he called the police. The neighbor also stated one of the teens allegedly pulled a knife on him when he approached.

The damage, which is estimated to around $540, also included damage to two reindeer decorations, and the bending of a metal fence as the vandals escaped over it. The lighted Christmas tree could not be salvaged and volunteers had to discard it.

"It is a shame that people would do this only one day before Christmas," said Justin Startzel, volunteer and decorations organizer. "The damage could have been much worse if neighbors hadn't caught them in the act."

Startzel and other South Ward Playground Association were thankful for the rapid response by the Tamaqua police who are now studying surveillance video.

Tamaqua Crime Watch is offering a single $250 reward for any first court-used statement that leads to the arrest or fine of one or all three vandals.

For more information about the reward, visit or call (570) 668-1234.

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