Two Southeast Missouri Transportation Service (SMTS) vans vandalized in the overnight hours of Tuesday, Dec. 3 into Wednesday, Dec. 4 were temporarily taken out of service last week until the profanity spray-painted on their exterior surfaces could be removed.
The vandalism occurred when the vehicles were parked at the Farmington SMTS location.
According to its website, SMTS provides transportation to everyone in 21 Missouri counties and is one of Missouri’s largest non-profit transportation providers. The vehicles are also handicap accessible for individuals in wheelchairs.
Relating details of the incident, Ginny Smith, SMTS director of operations, said, “Tuesday evening SMTS had two vehicle vandalized overnight and it was discovered Wednesday morning. One vehicle had inappropriate language painted on the windows, as well as the side of the vehicle. The other one had inappropriate language spray-painted on the hood.
“We don’t know any information other than that the last driver clocked in that evening around 6 p.m. and then the next one left out at 4 a.m. the next morning. So, it had to have happened sometime in-between those hours.
Asked if removing the paint from the vehicles would be expensive, Smith explained that SMTS had been “very fortunate.”
“Both vehicles that were vandalized are brand new,” she said. “One was had less than 50,000 miles on it and the other less than 10,000 miles on it. What that actually means is that the clear coat and some of the other problems that would have caused the paint to be harder to get off of an older vehicle — all of that was still in really great shape. We’ll be able to use some chemicals and some buffing. We won’t need to have either one repainted.”
Smith stressed that acts of vandalism cause more harm than just wasting taxpayer money.
“They don’t realize who it actually hurts,” she said. “It hurts the ones who need our service when we have to pull equipment out of service and can no longer provide the amount of service that we normally would if we had that equipment available for us to use.”
The good news is that Smith didn’t think the vans would have to be out of service for very long.
“I would say that there isn’t any reason why we couldn’t have them back in service by the beginning of [this] week.”
While the Farmington Police Department had made no arrest in the vandalism as of press time Wednesday, Smith said that catching the perpetrator(s) isn’t the main issue for SMTS.
“Obviously it would be great to find whoever damaged our vehicles, but hopefully by bringing awareness to the situation it will deter that from happening in the future.”
Anyone with information on the person or persons responsible for the SMTS acts of vandalism are encouraged to call their local police department or St. Francois County Dispatch at 573-431-3131. For additional information, Smith can be contacted by phone at 573-561-6218 or by emailing email@example.com.
Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or firstname.lastname@example.org