'I just don't need it': Vandal damages several storefront windows in downtown Burlington

NOW: ’I just don’t need it’: Vandal damages several storefront windows in downtown Burlington

BURLINGTON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Business owners along a three-block stretch in downtown Burlington have to replace some of their storefront windows after a vandal shot them with a pellet gun. 

The damage happened shortly after 1:30 a.m. Monday morning, according to Burlington police. On Tuesday, investigators and merchants were still discovering new damage along North Pine Street.

That included Mark Starzyk, who owns the Country Home Center. Starzyk said he didn't know about the pellet hole in his storefront window until a CBS 58 reporter came in and pointed it out. A silver lining was Starzyk wouldn't have to go far to find repairs.

"We sell millwork and windows," he said. "Fortunately, it's something I can replace myself."

Burlington Police Sgt. Robert Jones said, as of late Tuesday afternoon, investigators were aware of eight businesses that had been damaged. 

Police said surveillance video from downtown helped them identify and interview three suspects with five hours of the vandalism occurring Monday morning. Police arrested an 18-year-old on a charge of criminal damage to property.

Jones said Tuesday the investigation was still ongoing, but added police expected to refer criminal charges against the teen to the Racine County District Attorney's office.

Elsewhere in the 300, 400 and 500 blocks of N. Pine St, pellet holes were either visible in storefront windows, or those windows had been shattered or removed. 

Cardboard covered a door window at the exit of the Quotes + Cotton women's clothing store. Co-owner Allie Zusan said the damage was an unwelcomed distraction from planning for a pre-Mother's Day weekend sale the store had been coordinating with other downtown businesses.

"That's what our week was intended for, was gearing up for people to come down and shop at our businesses," Zusan said. "And get ready to celebrate moms next weekend."

Zusan shared surveillance footage from inside the store, which showed the window shatter as an SUV drove past the business. 

"Why? You know, there's a lot of us business owners, we put our heart and soul into these small businesses," Zusan said about the suspect. "Just, why?"

Renee Meinholz, executive director of the Life Choices pregnancy resource center, she said found out about the damage when she came into work Monday morning and saw an officer at the front door.

Two pellet holes were visible on a picture frame window outside the center. The holes had fully spider webbed, making the damage visible from down the block. Meinholz said she was concerned about the cost.

"The insurance will cover it, but we still have a deductible," she said. "We're run by donation. Everything is donor-funded, so our budget's tight, so any little thing like this causes hardship."

The vandalism happened in the city's historic district. Many of the broken windows were more than 100-years-old because they were original to buildings constructed in the late 1800s.

"And then, [in] two seconds, it's gone," Wayne Swihart, owner of the Keep M Tickin' clock and repair shop, said. "And to replace that? Some of them are irreplaceable. The size you can't get anymore; you have to change the window."

Swihart anticipated he'd need to close the shop for a day while the repairs take place, which he estimated would happen in about a month. He said he hoped the arrest would serve as a warning to any would-be copycats and noted the prevalence of surveillance camera on downtown shops.

"It's not something you get away with anymore," Swihart said. "It's not just a little prank. This is gonna be a costly one for them."

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