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Juveniles arrested for vandalism at Columbia Falls wrestling academy

by CHRIS PETERSON
Hungry Horse News | May 15, 2024 12:00 AM

The Columbia Falls Police Department recently arrested and charged four juveniles with a rash of vandalism in Columbia Falls, including damaging and destroying property at the Ruis Wrestling Academy and the Boys and Girls Club.

Columbia Falls Police Chief Clint Peters said they were able to make the arrest through proactive patrols. They found a couple of the youths out after curfew and gave them rides back to their house to make sure they went home.

After reviewing various security camera footage they were able to determine it was the same youths behind the vandalism. A further investigation ensued and they were linked to other vandalism in the city. In about four days, they did about $100,000 in damage, Peters told Columbia Falls City Council last week.

While folks have been blaming newcomers for the increase in crime, Peters noted the juveniles were “all locals” and they were young — junior high age.

It’s now up to the youth court system to appropriately punish the youths, Peters noted.

Police have been responding to more thefts recently, too. People need to lock their vehicles, he said.

There have been 13 firearms stolen from vehicles in the past two months, as well as cash and other valuables. But the thieves aren’t breaking windows, they’re taking it from unlocked vehicles.

Peters said drugs are to blame. People sell the loot to buy drugs.

He implored people to lock their vehicles.

“You really have to secure everything at this point,” he said.

“Congratulations for great work,” Mayor Don Barnhart said of the arrests. “We appreciate what you do.”