Bronze cranes are latest victims of SouthCity vandals 

Cranes, the long-legged birds known for dancing and mating for life, typically live between 20 and 30 years, but a bronze statue of the birds in South City didn’t make it to the age of four.

The $3,000 statue placed by the city at the intersection of Hickey and Junipero Serra boulevards in 2004 was ripped down sometime Tuesday night, leaving just the metal legs of the two birds twisted about.

Though different than the current vandalism trend of keying cars in South San Francisco, this act has gotten the attention of officials, as Mayor Rich Garbarino took a moment at Wednesday’s City Council meeting to call out the perpetrators for their "terrible" act.

"Hopefully the full extent of the law will be brought to bear on" the individual or individuals, Garbarino said.

Jack Myers, CEO of the Myers Development Co. behind the Terrabay Phase III towers, pledged a $5,000 reward on behalf of his company for the cranes’ return, no questions asked.

The two cranes — one stood 69 inches and weighed 69 pounds, the other 57 inches and 62 pounds — were not cut from their bases, which included a fountain feature to give the impression of a grassy wetland. They were instead wrenched off their spindly legs.

"[The suspect or suspects] were able to wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, and broke the legs," South City police Sgt. Joni Lee of said.

Residents in the West Winston Manor neighborhood have enjoyed the statue since it was erected in 2004, said Sue Perotti, the Recreation and Community Services manager for South San Francisco.

"It was quite lovely. … It’s a shame," Perotti said.

At the end of 2006, another piece of public art, a mural titled "Doors of Avignon," located on Grand Avenue, was vandalized as well, she noted.

South City has seen a recent trend in vandalism, predominantly with individuals keying cars, the act of scratching the paint with a key. In the last three weeks, there have been at least 60 separate reports of cars being keyed, causing thousands in dollars in damage, Lee said. Some cars, Lee added, were keyed down to the metal so owners couldn’t simply buff out the damage.

The incidents of keying don’t appear related to recent gang activity and are spread out randomly in the city, she said.

"It’s all over town, and it has happened in San Bruno," she said. "It’s all different times of day and night."

"I don’t ever recall ever this many cars being hit," the 27-year veteran of the force said.

Those with information on any of the cases should call South San Francisco Police at (650) 877-8900.

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