Neighbors Sleep At Tulsa Shop To Catch Vandals

Monday, April 4th 2011, 9:59 pm
By: News On 6

Emily Baucum, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa's old Swinney's Hardware Store has become a target for vandals. Now neighbors are fed up and say they want answers.

The store, which had been a neighborhood fixture since 1934, closed two years ago. Since then, it's just sat there very quietly, until vandals left their mark.

"It's more than a hardware store. This is kind of the watering hole," Teresa O'Rourke, with O'Rourke Real Estate, said. "A place where people would come to learn what's going on in the neighborhood."

Realtor Teresa O'Rourke's trying to sell the old building but boarded up windows don't help seal the deal.

"Right now we've got plywood up here," she said.

She says in just the last week vandals hit three times, lobbing concrete blocks through four windows.

"This glass is expensive. About $500 a pop. We're thinking right now it was probably neighborhood kids," Tim O'Keefe, with the Tulsa Police Department, said.

They really want to catch the vandals so Sunday night, some concerned neighbors and the neighborhood police officer brought in some guard dogs, brought in sleeping bags and blankets, and they held a slumber party just to see what they could find.

"Nothing happened last night. It's going to be a hit or miss thing," O'Keefe said.

They may not have caught the vandals in the act but O'Rourke calls the slumber party a success.

"I don't know if we didn't deter someone last night," she said.

Later this week the smashed glass will be replaced with laminate.

"It's not completely foolproof but it's much harder to break," O'Rourke said.

Police are picking up patrols and O'Rourke says she's installing security cameras.

"We're watching you," she said.

Sending the message this neighborhood won't tolerate turning the icon into an eyesore.

The Swinney family still owns the old store. It's being used for private events until it's sold or leased.

Police say if you see anything suspicious that could lead them to the vandals, call 911.