Spray-painter targets seven Polk County businesses

LAKELAND, Fla. — It is not art, it’s vandalism. That’s the message coming from Polk County area businesses after a young man spray-painted seven buildings throughout the county.

Now, there’s video that could help investigators find the person at the center of the crime.

“I’m thinking wonderful, not good,” Jeni Williamson answered our questions with a smile and a laugh but it was obvious the vandalism only added to her stress.

After all, Williamson and her husband have been dealing with a complete remodel of their car service building after Hurricane Irma destroyed it last fall.

“He’s pulled us away from getting our stuff done from Irma, to have to deal with spray painting our fence,” Williamson said.

Williamson has been working out of a trailer, instead of their regular office area.

Hurricane Irma tore off their office’s roof, filling the interior with a foot of water.

Tomorrow, they’ll finally have a new roof.

But adding yet another chore to their long to-do list wasn’t the least bit helpful

And their business wasn’t the only one tagged.

“The little vacant store down the street got it twice, they cleaned it up and then they came back and hit them again,” she said.

Seven business total have been spray-painted, all the way from Lakeland to Bartow.

“Not until after we got hit, did I hear it was going on and in Polk county,” Williamson said.

KEER, KERM, BUM, FERS, whatever the made-up words mean, they’ve been making their way throughout Polk County.

Now, all over Beverly Lay’s feed store.

“It looks like scribble lines to me, obviously it meant something to that guy,” Lay said.

Beverly told ABC Action News, it’s more annoying that upsetting, especially after detectives released a video of who may be the culprit. 

A young, slender man with what looks like cargo short and a t-shirt. 

“It’s not art, it’s basically being very disrespectful,” Lay said.

In the video, the man is spraying the letter K-E-R-M, on the backside of a building in downtown Lakeland, near the Polk Theatre. 

Investigators say it’s not a creative crime, and it’s not minor either.

“He is destroying peoples’ property and it cost me money to repair it and get my fence back to where it was,” Williamson said.

Investigators say once caught, the man will face several vandalism charges and burglary for trespassing on private property.

It has happened so often, Crime-stoppers is now offering $2,000 to anyone who provides information that can lead to his arrest. 

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