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Vandals ravage private pools

CASSELTON, N.D. - Police are questioning teens about a pool-slashing spree in south Casselton, N.D.

Three large inflatable pools were sliced with a knife overnight Wednesday between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., said Cass County Deputy Sheriff Craig Danielson. All three incidents took place within six blocks of one another.

Thousands of gallons of water spilled out of the pools. Although there wasn't significant water damage to the homes, the vandalism could lead up to a loss of $1,000 for the pool owners. If the incidents are related, as Danielson suspects, and the damage totals more than $1,000, the perpetrators could face up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine for a Class C felony.

Nicole Shoemaker, a mother of two whose $350 pool was destroyed, has never seen any form of vandalism like this - nor did she expect it.

The kids, who were on vacation at the time, still don't know their pool was ruined. Shoemaker isn't sure whether she'll press charges.

"If it's some 15-year-old who got pressured into doing a bunch of crap ... I can't say I understand, but I've got a kind heart, so we'll see," she said.

The vandalism was disconcerting for Shoemaker, who plans to put up a fence around her yard.

"It could have been worse. My kids could have been home," she said.

Jon Watt, whose pool was also vandalized, plans to offer a reward for any information leading to a conviction, Danielson said.

Watt was not available for comment Friday.

Casselton no longer has a public swimming pool, making the destruction all the more difficult for the victims, Danielson said.

Casselton city officials closed the public pool two years ago after the framework began cracking, said Park Director Stephen Bartholomay. The 30-year-old pool had other problems, including a deck in poor condition and a deteriorating bathhouse.

A new pool is slated to open in June 2009.

"(The victims) lost a very valuable part of their lives," Danielson said. "With the summer heat, it's more of an inconvenience and a deprivation of not being able to get to the pool."

Two Casselton residents also filed separate reports of slashed tires Thursday night. Danielson said authorities aren't sure whether the incidents are related.

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