Merchants along North Third Avenue were stunned Thursday morning, April 28, when decorative plants along the historic area had their two-foot deep pots smashed by a vandal.
Moss Rose Bakery was the victim of two ceramic pots smashed and Lori’s Creative Framing and Fine Art suffered one from in front of their establishment.
“Just the idea of why they did this makes me angry,” said MaryAnne Heath of Moss Rose Bakery.
The path of destruction led to I Love Paris that faces South Third Avenue causing over $500 damage to owner Eleanor Colombo’s four small potted trees that adorned her walkway between Starbucks and Chase Bank.
“They just vandalized and broke them for the fun of it,” said Colombo, adding that a hypodermic syringe was found near the damage. “There’s no reason. It was very sad and you just wonder why.”
Colombo said her customers were supportive and sympathetic to what happened to the small business owners that now have to put meager profits in to replacement of the pots.
“I think it made them feel bad too,” Columbo said. “They were surprised that someone in Oakdale would actually do this.”
The destruction didn’t end at I Love Paris or with just potted plants.
Jono Small of J/M Pawn Jewelry and Loan on South Yosemite Avenue said he suffered a broken front window of his business that occurred along the same timeline as the others.
Small said he received an alarm activation call at 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning and when he arrived at his business the front window had been shattered and a brick was found inside. The cost to replace the window is around $350.
Oakdale Police Sergeant Joe Johnson said police are reviewing local merchant closed circuit cameras in hopes of developing some leads to what occurred.
Debbie Lucas, a homeless woman who stays in the downtown area, said she saw the damage occurring when she was collecting cans along East F Street and Third Avenue.
“I heard all the racket and ‘wham-poof’ she was smashing the pots and turning over the plants,” Lucas said. “All she was doing was screaming down the sidewalk and repeating (f-word) and breaking pots.”
Lucas said she heard the commotion continue by I Love Paris.
“That was upsetting to me too,” Lucas said. “Those (business owners) are people I talk to every day.”
Lucas said the suspect was a woman, in her mid-20s to 30s that she knows only as “Denise,” another homeless person in the area.
“I try to stay away from her,” Lucas said.
By the next day, Colombo had already bought four new pots for her storefront and had the trees in them decorating the business.
“We couldn’t let that go with Mother’s Day coming.” Colombo said. “Oakdale is still a nice town.”