Monmouth police are seeking the public’s help in identifying those responsible for causing significant damage Friday night or Saturday morning to school buses and the town beach.

Officer Dana Wessling said vandals broke windows on buses before turning their attention to the beach off Beach Road.

“These kids tore through here,” Wessling said.

Wessling learned of the damaged buses around 7 a.m. Saturday. Three buses parked near the Monmouth Academy tennis courts were damaged, he said, with one sustaining more damage than the others. The vandals broke out windows on the buses. They also went inside, where they folded a long rear view mirror in half, breaking it.

“They actually pushed over the camera that hangs over the driver,” Wessling said. “It leads me to believe that it was kids who knew about the cameras.”

Wessling estimated that the vandals caused $1,000 damage to the buses, but because they are used for public transportation, the potential charges are elevated to a felony level. He said the charge for destroying public vehicles is aggravated criminal mischief, regardless of the amount of damage.

Wessling learned around 9 a.m. Saturday that the vandalism did not end with the buses. The beach area also suffered significant damage, he said. One of two lifeguard stands was pushed over and the other was pushed into the water. A large amount of trash was strewn on the beach and in the water.

“There’s trash everywhere,” Wessling said.

Those vandals also broke off a new handrail from a dock and turned over a portable toilet.

Wessling said the buses were damaged sometime between 7 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday. The beach was ransacked sometime after 10:30 p.m. Friday.

Regional School Unit 2 Superintendent Virgel Hammonds said transportation officials already had contacted the insurance company and were making plans to repair the buses, which are relatively new. Hammonds said it was too soon to know whether the bus damage would affect the start of school, which is scheduled for Wednesday. Information about any delay would be posted on the RSU’s website and on its Facebook page and would be announced in a call and email blast.

Hammonds said vandalism has not been a problem since he joined the school district four years ago.

“It’s not anything we’ve experienced since I’ve been with the RSU,” he said. “It’s a bit of a shock for us.”

Wessling asked anyone with information about the vandalism to call Monmouth police at 933-9089 or email Wessling at [email protected] Information can be left anonymously.

There is a history of vandalism at the beach, town recreation director Scott Wing said.

“It’s happened once already this year,” he said.

In that case, which occurred about three weeks ago, a portable toilet and lifeguard stand were overturned.

Wing said the number of vandalism incidents was curtailed greatly several years ago when the town expanded the beach hours, meaning a lifeguard was present longer during the day.

The vandalism typically causes damage and always costs the town money. The town must pay an additional $100 cleaning fee whenever a portable toilet is overturned, and one year the town had to buy a new toilet to replace one that had been damaged. Saturday’s incident resulted in calling in and paying for members of the public works crew to help with the cleanup.

“The ironic thing is that some of these kids probably have parents that complain about taxes,” Wing said.

Wing said the beach will remain open through the weekend and will close for the season Monday, as scheduled.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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