Loop 49 tagged by vandals


by: Kenneth Dean

Loop 49 offers motorists a pristine 26-mile drive from Texas Highway 110 to Interstate 20, but someone armed with a couple of spray paint cans marred one section with graffiti on the overpass at County Road 178 this week.

Smith County Sheriff's Lt. Bill Goecking said his department is working on the case reported earlier this week after the graffiti appeared on the columns supporting the overpass, the concrete ramp under the overpass and on the bridge itself that crosses Loop 49 between Old Jacksonville Highway and Texas Highway 155.  

"A lot of times gangs will mark their territory, but in this case, we don't know if this was just someone out there doing this as a wannabe or just being mischievous," he said.

Goecking said detectives would be asking for the public's help in offering any information in the case, which could range from a misdemeanor charge to a state-jail felony. 

"The charge depends on the dollar amount of the damage. If it can be easily painted over, then it would be a misdemeanor, but if it requires something to be replaced then it could be a felony," he said.

Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Larry Krantz said his agency is aware of the graffiti and is currently working to have a contracted crew clean it up.

"We have it in the works, but I don't know when they will get out there or what they will have to do to remove it. It could be as easy as just painting over it," he said.

Goecking said the sheriff's office does have a gang officer who is working with other county and state agencies on any gang-related crimes and the officer would be made aware of the graffiti on Loop 49.

"We are asking if anyone saw anything or has some information about this to contact us. If you see someone doing this or see some graffiti in a place it wasn't the day before, then give us a call at 903-566-6600 so we can get to work on it quickly," he said.


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