The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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December 4, 2013

Police investigate vandalism reports in Portage Twp.

PORTAGE TOWNSHIP — State police have received reports of vandalism at homes and a business in the Portage Township area.

A resident said Christmas decorations were destroyed at at least three homes around Wesley Avenue.

“I just want the township to keep an eye out,” said Mildred Chappell, 74, who lives along Wesley Avenue and has been the township’s tax collector for more than 20 years.

Chappell said she spent three days decorating her house and lawn for the season, only to have more than $100 worth of lights, ornamental figures and heavy-duty extension cords rendered worthless after power cords were snipped.

“There probably would have been more damage done, but maybe there was a car going up or down the road that scared them off,” she said.

Chappell said the vandals also hit a house across the street and, judging from a string of severed red lights left on her lawn Wednesday, at least one other house in the area.

Chappell said her house was the hardest hit.

The damage caused an outdoor fuse to blow, also tripping one of the breakers in her basement, she said.

Chappell said she first knew something was wrong when the lights were off. She said she hasn’t discovered any lasting damage to the electric at her house.

“It’s upsetting that anybody would do anything like that,” she said. “I just assumed it’s the younger generation. (They’re) the ones that do all the vandal work, it seems, around here. They vandalize the Portage park.”

Spain-based wind energy company Gamesa also reported that someone damaged a shipping container Wednesday at the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm in Portage Township.

State police in Ebensburg are investigating the incidents. The officer who filed the reports was unavailable for comment.

Anyone with information regarding the vandalism, or anyone who may have heard people bragging about destroying Christmas decorations in the area, is being asked to call state police at 471-6500.

Justin Dennis is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on‚ÄąTwitter at Twitter.com/Jus­tinDen­nis.

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