Officer Todd Purvis was responding to another call around 3:45 a.m. when he noticed windows of three buildings at the intersection of East Seventh and South Main streets had been smashed in.
“We don’t think it was a random act. We have a person of interest who we’re looking at,” says Purvis.
The Hot Springs Citizens for Progress of South Dakota owns the property, which was acquired in 2008.
“My only concern now is getting someone to secure the buildings,” says Robert Johnson, president of the non-profit organization.
“Authorities weren’t able to give me much information,” he adds.
Purvis says officials aren’t sure how the windows were bashed, however, wooden blocks and an axe were found nearby.
“We pulled some surveillance tapes from Juba’s and looked at them. We have a good idea of when it happened,” he says.
“It looks like one person is involved,” he adds.
Two downtown lots with holiday decorations also were vandalized, but authorities do not know if the incidences are related.
On Monday, two workers from Vets Glass of Winnebago boarded up the buildings and cleared broken glass from the sidewalk.
Cost of labor and material so far is between $400 and $500. No estimate to replace the windows has been made.
The buildings have been vacant since they were purchased. In March, the City Council passed a two-page ordinance charging vacant property owners a $500 annual registration fee.
Johnson says his group still wants to fix up the buildings for retail stores, but legal matters have put the project on hold.
He says the non-profit group already has spent several thousand of dollars to secure the property and local authorities have needed to be called for assistance.
“I don’t know. I haven’t even thought about that,” Johnson says when asked if the group will sell the buildings because of the latest incident.
Purvis says anyone having any information is asked to contact the police department at (507) 526-5959.