Racist vandalism turns up in Federal Way's Marine Hills neighborhood

A Marine Hills couple came home from a weekend getaway June 15 to find a shocking surprise spray painted on their garage door — swastikas.

The graffiti appears to be part of a string of incidents to occur in mid-June in the that area. The vandalism is something Lowell and Sue, the Marine Hills couple who preferred their last name remain anonymous, feel could be prevented by a police presence in the neighborhood. Police say keeping a neighborhood safe is easier to do when those living in it are aware of their surroundings.

“It’s all about people having a heightened sense of awareness,” Federal Way police officer Myron Kline said.

Crime spree

Lowell and Sue returned home the afternoon of June 15 to find clusters of red graffiti spray painted on their well-kept garage door.

The first few letters of a racial slur toward blacks was painted along with symbols that appeared to be swastikas.

“I don’t know if they intended to paint swastikas,” Lowell said.

He painted over the mess the same day, but about 2 a.m., Sue heard noise outside. The couple later discovered their garage door had been vandalized once again. The community mailboxes in the neighborhood also bore the Nazi symbol. Sue called the police.

Even though the graffiti happened twice in a 24-hour time period, the couple said they do not feel like the vandal targeted them for any specific reason.

“I don’t know why they picked our house,” Lowell said. “That’s a mystery to me, too.”

Turns out they were not the only ones in the Marine Hills neighborhood to recently suffer from graffiti markings. Officer Josh McConnell told Lowell and Sue that similar graffiti had been found a few blocks from their home about a week earlier, the couple said.

“I felt better when he said we weren’t the only people,” Sue said.

On June 15, a man, who lives in the 800 block of South 296th Street in the Marine Hills neighborhood reported two of his vehicles vandalized with removable paint. One had racial slurs and a depiction of male genitalia written on the window, according to a police report. Another window was broken.

Nearby, Nautilus Elementary School at 1000 S. 289th St. was hit with graffiti the day before. Racial and sexual slurs were spray painted on school property. The paint has since been cleaned and washed. Police have no suspects, according to a police report.

Crime prevention:

Lowell and Sue said they hear numerous cars and skateboarders traveling past their home in the wee hours of the night. But they live on a dead-end street.

“It’s so secluded, there is no reason to have all that activity,” Sue said.

McConnell told the couple he’d request more patrols in their neighborhood, Sue said. She personally requested them as well.

“It would help if this area was better patrolled,” Lowell said.

Police think teenagers are causing the ruckus, and if they know a cop could cruise up at any time, they will think twice about vandalizing property, he said.

Stopping crime is easier with the public’s help. An active community involvement in crime prevention and an intolerance for crime in one’s neighborhood assist the police department in doing its job, Kline said.

“We can’t solve nearly as much crime before it happens without the assistance of our community and citizens helping us out,” he said.

If a person notices something or someone suspicious, police encourage him or her to take notes or a license plate number and forward that to police, Kline said. Community block watches are also effective ways to keep a neighborhood safe, he said. Marine Hills does not have a block watch group, but neighbors generally try to keep an eye on one another’s property when they are gone, Lowell said.

“There are ways you can watch your neighborhood and not be directly involved,” Kline said. “We encourage people to call and not be intimidated to report suspicious behavior.”

Contact Jacinda Howard: or (253) 925-5565.

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