Local News

Vandals hit county businesses

SEBRING - Windows at J.C. Penny’s and Belk at Lakeshore Mall were two of the 50-odd businesses whose windows were shot at with a BB-type gun in a countywide shooting spree that has damaged several storefronts from Lake Placid to Avon Park. Sebring Police Cmdr Steve Carr said 23 businesses were affected in Sebring. In Lake Placid, 20 storefronts were targeted, said Police Chief James Fansler. The vandalism count for Avon Park, which the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office handles, is not known right now. The shooting was heavily concentrated in the downtown and business areas and could have happened late Saturday or/ and into early Sunday.
The earliest report of the vandalism was seen in Lake Placid when an officer doing a check shortly at around 2:30 a.m. Sunday noticed a cracked window and then saw that other storefronts had suffered the same fate, Fansler said. Authorities are following up on leads but won’t say comment further. Businesses that were affected were busy boarding up windows or waiting for professional help Sunday. Lora Todd, who owns a business in downtown Sebring and manages another one, said Sunday that nothing was taken but one window each on both storefronts was shattered. Sunday morning she was waiting for Central Florida Glass and Mirror to come board up the gaping holes before it rained. The vandalism also shattered about a $ 1,000 worth of merchandise at Brenner’s Pottery Gallery, which Todd manages. A month ago Todd and her husband opened a new store in downtown Sebring, whose window now has to be fixed. “This is an expense we don’t need,” she said. At the Boys & Girls Club Emporium, manager Levon Stukes was putting up plywood on the inside to keep out the cracked glass, which was being kept in place only because of the window tint. The club’s board president Vicki Jarvis said she got a call at 5 a.m. Sunday and rushed here. Luckily, her own business, Frames & Images, missed a hit. “I’ve had there were a lot of windows that were shot at,” she said. Some of the merchants interviewed were surprised at the “magnitude” of the damage and said the Sebring downtown area is usually incident-free. Todd’s husband, Doyle Book, said he’s heard of random cases in the downtown area, but nothing of this “magnitude.” Todd was puzzled and disgusted at the destruction. “It’s probably someone that needs to get a life and not do any damage,” she said. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 402-7200, the Sebring Police Department at 863-471-5108, or the Lake Placid Police Department at 863-699-3757. Anonymous tips are kept confidential and the Lake Placid police is offering an award in case of an arrest.