PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Frustration is building for some store owners in downtown Palm Springs. A recent string of vandalism is costing them money and business, and they are fed up. One of them, Gary Dorothy, took cell phone video of the several store fronts that were hit three nights in a row with spray paint. "Just randomly sprayed black paint, and another night white paint, mostly without words," said Dorothy. "We've seen him on tape, it's very clear who he is but nobody seems to know or really how to find him."
The surveillance photos taken at one of the stores shows the man vandalizing the stores in the early hours of morning. There is no pattern to it, except for one common trend. "Well there was a word written on some of the businesses that was the same," said Palm Springs police department Sergeant Mike Kovaleff. "The problem with a lot of our investigation was that the graffiti was cleaned up prior to our arrival."
The word: "Thetan" is seen throughout the cell phone video. It is a term used in the Church of Scientology which refers to one's "spirit." It is too early to make a link, but the random nature of it worries owners. "It's just kind of unnerving because you don't know what kind of erratic behavior like that might result in later on," said Dorothy.
The vandalism is adding to the ongoing frustrations of many of the store owners. Marsha Robinson owns Desert Artists. She says she deals with people keying her windows constantly. "It's not worth replacing because it's a 700 dollar window," said Robinson. "We don't own the property and you just replace the window and have to do it again."
Robinson hopes that PSPD will bulk up its patrols to stop the vandals. That's exactly what they are doing. "We've increased our patrols in the area and we've made our patrol officers aware of the situation and the suspect information," said Kovaleff. "We've also dedicated some of our downtown surveillance cameras at some of the locations."
As for man in the photos, the store owners only want one thing:
"I think something's wrong with him, to be doing this, I would like him to be apprehended, and dealt with some way," said Dorothy.
"Catch him, that's it," said Robinson.
If you have any information, contact the Palm Springs police department.