Thousands of Dollars In Damage
Western Michigan’s iconic lighthouse, Holland Harbor, also known familiarly as “Big Red,” was vandalized over October 7 and 8. Using a construction ladder to climb in and break out a window, the perpetrators discovered red and white paint and dumped it starting in the basement boiler room, tracking it up the stairs and splattering it everywhere, all the way to the lantern room.
Besides the paint damage, a light at the top was broken, and a $20,000 display on loan to the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Commission from the Holland Museum was demolished. The vandals also tore off flag holders, and left scratch marks. Damage is estimated at thousands of dollars, without even figuring in the man hours needed to take care of the mess.
A video has been posted at the WWMT TV website, which shows the damage. For those viewing in email, here is a direct link to the story with the video, but be warned. For lighthouse lovers, it’s very disheartening.
Just Kids Being Mischievous?
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department believes the damage was done by juveniles. “Just based upon my experience in law enforcement, it looks to me like it’s kids,” said Lt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, “it’s just kids being mischievous.”
“It’s quite surprising to us,” said John Gronberg of the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Commission, “this is the first instance, not the first instance of a break-in, but it is the first instance of damage associated with a break-in.”
The Lighthouse Commission has said it doesn’t want to prosecute, it just wants restitution. Well, fortunately, the decision to prosecute is not necessarily in their hands. And there would be no enforcement of restitution if there isn’t a criminal prosecution. And taking it to civil court would be too costly.
These juveniles, need to be found and held accountable. And not with a mere slap on the wrist. Breaking into the lighthouse, which has happened in the past, is one thing, but the amount of malicious destruction of property seen in the video puts it in a whole different light. If they’re allowed to get away with this, then who knows what they’ll do next time?
No Leads, But Lots of Clues
Although the sheriff’s department has no suspects as of this writing, the perpetrators did leave some very obvious clues…their footprints. And of course, the deputies will be following up on this. And if they are kids, as seems to be believed, it will be hard for them to stay silent about it. Hopefully someone will overhear them and report it to the authorities.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department is requesting your help in this. If you have any knowledge about what happened, please get in touch with them at the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department tip line 616-738-4687. Or you can contact Silent Observer at 616-392-4443.
- Sunset Over Big Red by norjam8. Some rights reserved.
- Big Red and Sailboat by Christopher P. Bills. Some rights reserved.
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