Police looking for information on tomato vandals

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

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Police are asking the public for help to figure out who has been throwing tomatoes at buildings with signs promoting President Barack Obama and distributing letters asking others to join in.

Letters were left Sunday on the porches of houses in the Lincoln, Arnada and West Minnehaha neighborhoods. The letter says Obama and U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have had an unproductive approach to energy policy.

A similar letter was distributed in the Hough neighborhood in March.

Most recently, tomatoes were thrown Sept. 26 onto the roof of a house in the 3000 block of Columbia Street. A copy of the letter was also left on the porch.

Cpl. Drue Russell, a neighborhood police officer for the Vancouver Police Department's west precinct, sent an email to neighborhood leaders about the letter and the potential criminal charges attached to the tomato attacks.

The tomato attacks could be prosecuted as third-degree harassment and malicious mischief, which can amount to a gross misdemeanor depending on the circumstances, Kapp said. The potential penalties are a year in prison, a fine of no more than $5,000 or both.

Police are asking people to call 911 if they see someone throwing tomatoes at a house or distributing these letters, or if their homes were hit.