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As vandalism rises in Billings, crime victims take steps to protect themselves

Broken Mailbox
Posted at 4:34 PM, Dec 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-21 08:55:13-05

BILLINGS - Vandalism cases surged this year in Billings, increasing in residential properties by 25 percent from 2021 to 2022, according to figures released by Billings police this week.

These crimes have affected many families, and without video evidence, it's tough for police to make an arrest. Consequently, some crime victims are taking steps to protect themselves.

For the Christofersons, one of the city's most recent victims, a recent vandalism cost them their mailbox, and they want to make sure it won't happen again.

“Almost looked like a truck backed into it. Just a really odd spot for that to happen,” Dave Christoferson said in an interview with MTN Tuesday. “It’s there. One more expense right during the holidays. Worst time of year that can happen for anybody."

The mailbox is standing up now, but is about half its original height, and will need to be replaced once the weather warms up. For now, it's something that the family has to deal with, and there's many more situations like theirs across Billings.

“It is sad. It’s an inconvenience," said Becca Christoferson. "You’re just seeing more of this happening in Billings. People are experiencing that loss and that headache."

And there are numbers that back up the Christofersons' claim. Billings police stats show vehicle vandalisms have gone from 423 in 2021 to 497 this year, and the jump in residential vandalism is even higher — a 25 percent increase from 199 to 248. There have also been more attacks on schools as well.

Vandalism numbers

“It’s a major problem. They see it no matter what neighborhood you’re in," Dave Christoferson said. "It’s all over town, and it’s a huge uptick everywhere we go."

MTN has reported on other instances throughout the year. Broken car windows and fences are among the most notable.

But in many of these situations, there isn't any video evidence and police can't make an arrest — something that is very frustrating for families like the Christofersons.

“I just feel like there’s not a lot of repercussions for that," Becca said. "I mean, we can’t catch them. Obviously, they’re not going to repair and fix our mailbox. They didn’t leave any information."

And Dave said neighborhoods need to stick together and pay attention to try and help prevent these issues in the future.

“Neighborhoods need to watch for each other, and cameras are a huge thing," Dave said. "It helps finding these people that are doing it."

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