By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
In the past five months, there have been three cases of vandalism at River Place Country Club’s golf course maintenance shop, causing extensive and costly damages. The most recent incident happened on Saturday night around 11:30 p.m.
“There was no damage Saturday when we left the property and there was damage when we arrived Sunday,” said Todd Dattalo. He has been the golf course superintendent at the RPCC for the past year.
The Oct. 17 incident involved “destroying” a food and beverage cart, Dattalo said. The cart was crashed into a gate leaving a huge red paint mark on the cart, the same red paint that’s on the gate.
“I’ve had at least three cases of vandalism totaling more than $50,000 worth of damage,” Dattalo said.
A security camera captured images this most recent time. That was not the case in May or July.
The first incident of vandalism at 4207 River Place Blvd. happened over Memorial Day weekend.
“We had a few maintenance vehicles banged up that evening. Punctured tires, dented carts and stolen items out of carts. They also cracked a transmission on one of the vehicles as well,” Dattalo said.
The most extensive criminal mischief and criminal trespass cases occurred in July, after staff left the maintenance shop late in the day on the 1st and before 5 a.m. on July 2, according to the Austin Police Department report.
The APD report states that “several John Deer Gators that were damaged. One had a damaged front hood. Another was on a jack and missing the tire on the rim. The subject drove that Gator off the jack and ran it into another Gator and a golf cart. The AC unit appeared to have been ran into by a vehicle and destroyed. The hydraulic lift was kicked by a subject and the oil reservoir was damaged where it couldn’t be used. The waster pump to the water reservoir appeared as if it had also been hit by a vehicle and destroyed. The roof had been broken inward from the top. There were two pieces of equipment that were flipped on their trailer and a grill that had been flipped over.”
The APD investigation is ongoing.
“Police told me that if they do catch these kids, it’s a felony,” Dattalo said.
The maintenance shop is in a remote place, in the middle of the golf course on top of a hill. The nature trail runs through the back of it. Police have a hard time getting there because it is so tucked back far away from everything, Dattalo said.
“These are not kids dropped off in the neighborhood,” Dattalo said. “We believe it’s kids from the neighborhood.”
“They’re not stealing to take things and make money, they’re destroying stuff,” Dattalo said.
He added that the damages have cost a lot of time and money to repair. The ATVs, golf carts, well pump and building roof all had to be fixed and repaired, and the air conditioner replaced.
After the July incident, Dattalo put up a motion sensor camera and captured images around 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 17 where the food and beverage cart was damaged and a flag was broken on the golf course.
“There is zero reason anyone should be on the property at 11:30 p.m., especially at my shop,” Dattalo added.
He posted on social media platform Nextdoor, trying to raise awareness and hoping for parents to take action. He’s also trying to get help from anyone in the community who may have seen something (firstname.lastname@example.org ). Some posted that he cannot be sure that the boys on the video did the damage but Dattalo says, “Anyone can draw the conclusion.”
He does not know if the same group of kids vandalized RCPP all three times.
“They’re out of school,” Dattalo said. “It’s just gotten worse since March. There’s been an uptick of stupid stuff.”