VIRGINIA

Pool vandalism in Fairfax County prompts police campaign

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The heat is on, and local pools are packed with people. But, in the West Springfield district of Fairfax County, sometimes the waters are filled with trash, rock and even outdoor umbrellas.

Pool vandalism is a trend police seem to notice during the summer months. This year, they've launched a campaign to make sure you enjoy, not destroy, area pools.

Last month, Truro pool in Annandale was vandalized, with opening day fast approaching.

Truro pool manager Kara Halpin said, "We have these coping stones along the side of the pool that were all thrown in over the fence. All into the baby pool."

The stones left massive chips that cost about $600 to repair.

Halpin said vandalism is a problem that happens almost every summer.

"I've had big umbrellas thrown in, opened. You can't really pull them out when they're open...it took a lot of us to get it out. A basketball hoop. I've had every lawn chair and trash cans with trash thrown in. Dirt, grass, you name it, it's probably been in the pool."

Fairfax County police said it's a crime they take seriously.

Police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell added, "It's not something that just happens and the police department lets it go. We actually do investigate them."

Informational posters and community outreach are all part of a new campaign targeting pool communities, especially West Springfield.  In 2011, that district reported 44 incidents. This year, there have been three so far. 

"We've done this campaign as an effort to reach out to the teenagers and the families who use the pools," Caldwell explained. "There can be a number of charges from larceny charges to vandalism charges to trespassing."

Meanwhile, Caldwell said pools can step up their security by keeping areas well lit.

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