Vandals cause more than $50,000 in damage to City Park property - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Vandals cause more than $50,000 in damage to City Park property

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Vandals caused more than $50,000 of damage to City Park equipment when they used utility vehicles in a "demolition derby," according to park Public Affairs Director John Hopper.

Park administrators hope a $1,000 reward helps catch the culprits.

"I've lived here around this park for quite some time now, and I've enjoyed activities here since I was a young boy," said Francis Conrad as he fished in one of the park's many lagoons. "I would think that the citizens of New Orleans would appreciate City Park to the point where they wouldn't vandalize or destroy the property that's in it."

Just Conrad unravels his fishing line, park administrators are unraveling a mystery.

"Unfortunately, what you are looking at is five utility vehicles that are all probably totaled," Hopper said.

According to Hopper, thieves broke into the park's gated storage.

"Broke locks, stole the vehicles went to some of the adjacent fields and apparently had a little demolition Derby," he said.

Maintenance crews spent hours picking up bits and pieces of debris. Hopper said the break-in happened overnight Saturday into Sunday morning and ending with the vandals trashing the carts.

"For good measure, they either drove or pushed four of them into the lagoons."

Two of the vehicles were brand new. Louis Bischoff, the director of grounds maintenance, said one only had four hours of use.

"The two brand new ones are considered to be the Cadillac of a maintenance fleet," Bischoff said. "Every maintenance facility in the United States would love to have two of the new ones. It hinders us a lot in projects that we had planned to accomplish. We will be having to put off now three to four weeks."

"That's what they use to go around and collect the trash," Hopper said. "It's not a luxury. It's not a fun little item to have. It's part of their work."

Hopper hopes some publicity and the reward will help catch the crooks.

"We've lost a lot of money, but we would love to lose $1,000 more and see these - give that reward away and see somebody arrested."

Conrad has a message for the vandals: "I'm sure there's a lot more productive and constructive things you can do with your time other than destroy property in the park," he said.

Maintenance workers will now have to cover the 1,300-acre park with two operational vehicles until the damaged carts can be replaced.

If you have any information about the vandalism, contact City Park Police Chief Billy Bayle at (504) 421-9307.

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