Nearly 30 people brave rain to fix Safety Village vandalism

Heavy rain soaked the scene as nearly 30 volunteers worked to clean up and repair the damage done to the Life Enrichment Center's MAK Town Safety Village on Friday.

The damage was done Monday evening — just a week before the center’s anticipated seasonal opening.

“It was a great day for the community and for law enforcement,” said Major Brian Johns with the Dayton Police Department. “Everybody was out in the rain working hard.”

On Friday, community volunteers, members of the Dayton Police Department, 10 Lowe’s employees, a work crew escorted by members of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office, a fire chief and a judge worked for about three hours to clean up, repair and make improvements to the village.

Safety Village, 425 N. Findlay St., is a mock town that is used to teach road safety to young children.

The volunteers were able to use equipment provided by Lowe’s to add planter boxes and boom barriers — the bars used to block road traffic when a train is passing by — to the village. They also trimmed the brush back from the edges of the village because the vandals took advantage of the brush to hide from surveillance cameras when they smashed windows, broke flag and light poles and leveled mock buildings.

Johns said he received a call from a community member offering to donate money to help pay for the village’s repairs.

“It was nice to get to see someone who does so much for others to get something back from the community,” said Johns about the Life Enrichment Center.

The police suspect at least three vandals destroyed the village, and some of them may be juvenile based on evidence left at the scene, including fingerprints, a size small camouflage sweatshirt and Bengals hat. Two red and black go karts are missing from the village, too.

The center is improving the surveillance cameras. A cash reward is being offered to encourage people with information to call the police or CrimeStoppers.

“We would like to be able to identify who did this so we can hold them responsible,” said Johns. “And, we need the community’s help to do that.”