Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Metal Detectors/Vandals

“Look over here.”

Dang! There is a 3x4 foot hole dug on site.

More holes surround it. There are about 40 holes freshly dug on an archaeological site that we, Site Stewards, monitor. The damaged area covers about 30 meters.

Along with the holes are areas of raking. A few pieces of metal are piled up. Looks like metal detecting activity!

In another area there is a collector’s pile of prehistoric sherds and lithics marked with a large rusty pail with a stick inserted.

In yet another area, rocks have been removed, actually taken, from a prehistoric alignment. Other rocks have been dug out and left to the side of their cast. What would anyone want with those rocks? Lizard hunting is suggested.

We follow the boot prints -2 types. The prints cover the site. Photos of the prints are taken as proof and to be used to compare with other prints.

Leaning against a tree is an abandoned leaf rake. Cigarette butts and new water bottle are nearby. Looting is thirsty work!

Pictures are taken of the destruction and evidence then sent to our land manager.

We call law enforcement and a Deputy Sheriff arrives to look at the damage. Our land manager contact also arrives at the scene. Vandalism, tire tracks and boot print photos are taken by law enforcement. We are given a case number along with the Officer’s name and phone number with a “call me any time” comment. He is disgusted. He grew up here and knows and likes the area.

We revisited the site the next few weeks and new damage continued in other areas of this site but 3 other sites had also been ‘hit’ by these vandals.

Sheriff’s Department and our County contact continue to monitor the main site.

On our last visit, we saw an SUV on site and were able to get the license plate number.

This area is a “permit required” area and this vehicle had no permit displayed on dashboard per requirement. Photos of the SUV, license plate number, make of vehicle, color, etc. were all turned over to law enforcement.

Only 16 % of Arizona is privately owned. The rest is Federal, State, County or City owned and controlled. Fines vary but for this County “permit required” area the fine is $180 just for being there without a permit!

Fines may vary by Land Ownership but can be $250,000 and 5 years in jail for removing or disturbing archaeological artifacts or features.

An e-mail received: Caught the perp! YEA!!

The perp was not metal detecting at the time he was caught but he was trespassing. He squealed on a couple he said he had met there and the individuals had been fined before for metal detecting. So names and car make have everyone on the watch!

In all, the perps have vandalized four sites. Three of them have minor damage. But damage is damage! Damn vandals.

Our concentrated team effort led to the nailing of one perp! We sure hope to get the others-SOON!

And I must remember to put our pass on the dashboard next time we are out there!

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