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Three vandals were caught by the U.S. Forest Service on Nov. 3 in the act carving graffiti into the south cliff of Bell Rock.

Mike Ober, volunteer with Friends of the Forest, removes graffiti from the south side of Bell Rock on Thursday, Feb. 13. Three suspects were caught there by local law enforcement after being notified by a passerby Nov. 3 in the act of etching their names on the south face. The suspects are being charged with vandalism.

Specific names and dates are being withheld pending the outcome of the ongoing court case, but sources have confirmed that three young men from New York, accompanied by at least five family members, were caught in the act of carving “G,” “H,” “S” and possibly a heart symbol at least three feet high, using a drill and wire brush, into the cliff.

Defacement of any areas on U.S. Forest Service land is a Class B misdemeanor. If convicted, the perpetrators could face a $5,000 fine, up to six months in prison, or both.

“There is also unlimited restitution, which would be set from the bench,” Mike O’Neil, law enforcement officer with the U.S. Forest Service, said. “But nothing can be shared about this case. The first public appearance has not taken place yet.”

Such an act is unusually bold for vandals defacing the red rocks, but with consistent cleanup, the graffiti in its heaviest areas seems to at least slow down, said Gustav Spence, president of Friends of the Forest — a local organization with a volunteer committee dedicated to cleaning Sedona-area defacement.

“People can do incredibly stupid things,” he said. “When we get periodic reports about an area like up on Cathedral Rock, Devil’s Bridge at West Fork, off the edges of the trail at Boynton and Fay canyons, Slide Rock — there have been places it’s apparent we have to go back every year, or it just gives other people the green light to do more and more.”

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Feb. 19, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.


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  • Laurie B

    Reminds me of a saying my grannie used to tell us..'People's names and monkey's faces are always seen in public places'

  • Lee Stehle

    When I first read the article title, my blood pressure started to almost boil, but simmered just a bit when i read these disrispectful vandals were caught. I'd sure like to volunteer and/or somehow help out in the Sedona/Red Rock country to help prevent and/or stop this wanton and malicious torment to what the Almighty Creator created for this highly majestic area of our wonderful Planet !

  • larry mosher

    I hope the judge has the stones to hit them with the maximum. This a case of Urban idiots giving anasazi indians a bad name. That is not a petroglyph it is graffiti. To bad we can't send them back to New York for good

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