Hate crime is reported to officials
A recent car theft in Baldwin has evolved into a hate-crime report by Baldwin City police to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The car was stolen in late June. When it was found by Baldwin police, it had been severely damaged, including "MLK" spray painted on the car numerous times. It is owned by a 19-year-old Baldwin man who is a minority.
The situation demanded the hate-crime report to the state and the FBI, Baldwin Police Chief Mike McKenna said.
"We have to consider that a hate crime because of it being a minority and the epitaph," said McKenna. "I visited with the FBI Tuesday and they asked that I FAX the report to them.
"They had to know he was black and the damage to the car showed definite anger and that it was more than one person because of the damage done to the car," he said.
The car was stolen from the 600 block of Chapel around 1:30 p.m. on June 28. It was found a week or so later in a rural area south of Baldwin. The thieves had taken golf clubs that were in the car and used them to smash all the windows out and beat the car. Then there was the spray painting of "MLK" on the car in at least six places.
McKenna said Tuesday that the investigation into the theft and criminal damage to property continues.
"We're still following up leads," he said. "We have some promising leads and we are following up on those leads in an effort to solve this case."
McKenna encourages anyone that may have information regarding the case to notify the police department at 594-3850. There will be a reward offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
Initially, it was thought that the car theft was merely a prank, he said. That didn't turn out to be the case.
"He had parked his car there (Chapel Street) to go see his girlfriend and they immediately decided to order a pizza," said McKenna. "He walked back out to the car and it was gone. His first thought was friends playing a joke."
That wasn't the case and McKenna is taking the case seriously.
"I've always felt strongly when you're performing your job you can't let your personal feelings get involved," he said. "I can't say much about this. It angers me. It sickens me."
He also said there was no choice but to report it as a hate crime.
"In our report forms to the state of Kansas, we have a specific box for that," McKenna said. "If the elements are there, you have to check it. I can't not check it."
The Signal contacted the family involved Tuesday. Although bothered by the theft and damage, they do not consider it to be a hate crime and have never experienced any similar incidences. They preferred that their names not be used with the story. In certain crime cases, the Signal does not use the victim's name.
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