Updated: 07/10/2014 1:45 PM
Created: 07/09/2014 8:34 PM KSTP.com
By: Beth McDonough
Nearly a quarter of a metro city is suffering the effects of a hate crime. Police say someone spray-painted racial and sexual slurs all over Mendota Heights, targeting homes, cars and even city buildings.
Most of the vandalism happened west of Interstate 35E and north of Highway 110.
Police are offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people behind all the spray-painted obscenities.
The Mulvihills have lived in Mendota Heights for 48 years. They were disgusted to discover the worst kind of words were spray-painted on their mail box - slurs too offensive to repeat.
"It hurts, and that hurts, too; why would somebody come and do something like that?" Art Mulvihill said. His wife, Diana, went on to say, "I'm shocked; what's happening to our society?"
In one week, police say vandals scribbled ugly words including sexual, gender and racial slurs on homes along Hunter Lane, Twin Circle, Diane and Rae streets, and damaged city buildings and cars.
The vandalism is considered a hate crime, according to Police Chief Mike Aschenbrener.
"I think there's a lot of hurt feelings, a lot of people taking this very seriously; there's a lot of damage, and people are going to spend a lot of money fixing their houses."
It's especially hard for Mulvihill, who depends on a wheelchair to get from his home to his mailbox.
Investigators suspect teens did the damage in the middle of the night and likely knew their targets based on the messages scrawled on certain homes.
The Mulvihills spent the whole day trying to clean up the mess left behind.
The Insurance Federation of Minnesota said when this happens, typically your homeowner’s insurance policy will help because vandalism is looked at like theft. Whatever your deductible is, you're on the hook for that, then insurance will cover the rest. If you don't have insurance, you pay for the entire cleanup.
In some communities like St. Louis Park, there's a time limit when the graffiti has to be removed. As for St. Paul, it offers free clean up by city workers. Minneapolis doesn't go that far but does provide free graffiti removal solvent.
Anyone with information about the graffiti in Mendota Heights should call the police department’s tip line at 651-255-1170.