Crime Footage

A still image taken from a security camera at Sidney Middle School shows possible vandalism suspects who may be responsible for at least 12 reported crimes committed against local businesses and residences in Sidney, Mont.

At least 12 businesses and private residences were vandalized during the night on July 15, the Sidney Police Department confirmed.

“We had a rash of vandalism that occurred in the early morning hours of Wednesday, July 15th,” said Chief of Police Mark Kraft.

The destruction, which included broken windows at all or most of the sites — as well as additional findings of damaged property — occurred between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., Kraft said. “We’re actively investigating the case, and it seems the vandals are all linked.”

Thus far, 12 businesses and private residences reported they were vandalized during the nighttime rampage.

“Yesterday, our day-shift officers were inundated with the reports,” Kraft said, noting targeted businesses and homes were not clustered in one particular area of Sidney.

“It’s kind of all over town,” he said.

Kraft reported Sidney Middle School was vandalized, along with the Sidney public pool, where at least one window was broken. In addition, he confirmed a report that Peifer’s General Store in downtown Sidney and the Rush Espresso Truck — located near S. Central Avenue — were vandalized on July 15.

“We have 12 victims listed,” said Kraft. “It doesn’t seem to be targeted at anything — businesses, private parties.”

Business owners hit by vandals began reporting damage to the Sidney Police Department at about 7 a.m. on Wednesday, according to Kraft, who said initial damage appeared to be limited to broken windows.

However, police officers discovered additional property damage to some locations when they began their investigations.

Kraft requested anyone whose home or business was struck by vandals on Wednesday morning closely examine their property for additional damage they might have initially missed.

“We’re actively seeking surveillance [video] footage of any of the areas that were damaged,” Sidney’s Chief of Police said.

As for suspects, Kraft reported the department’s investigators believe the vandals were young and possibly on foot.

“We do believe this was the work of three individuals,” he said, noting the perpetrators did not appear to be driving vehicles.

The Police believe “youths were involved in doing the damage,” Kraft said, but this had not been verified as of July 16.

“We do have persons of interest,” he said. “However, we are still gathering information, and these persons of interest may not be involved in the case.”

Asked whether the Richland County Sheriff’s Office will be brought into the case to assist the Sidney Police Department in expediting their investigation, Kraft noted it is standard operating procedure for the two entities to cooperate.

“We work so closely together that if there’s a series of crimes in town, it almost goes without saying...they just assist where they can,” the Chief of Police said.

This is not the first time in recent years that Sidney has incurred this type of crime.

“We have had occasions where we’ve had a rash of vandalism during the course of the night,” Kraft said. “Two years ago, two juveniles...were charged with criminal mischief.”

If all the crimes from the recent nighttime rampage are linked, the acts are considered a felony by legal statute because the estimated property damage currently exceeds $1,500.

“In this particular case,” Kraft said, “we’re above that threshold.”

In a follow-up email sent to the Sidney Herald, Chief Kraft urged “anyone with information about these crimes to contact the Sidney Police Department.”

Kraft continued: “I am also asking anyone with security cameras to check their footage between 0100-0300 hours on 7/15/20, and to contact the police department if they believe they have footage of the suspects in this case.”

Sidney Police Department contact: (406) 433-2210

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