Hoping to spur the investigation along, Riverside County supervisors today approved a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the culprits who damaged a statue of former President Ronald Reagan.
"We need to send a message that those that do this kind of thing -- if we can find you, we're going to prosecute you," said Supervisor Jeff Stone, who won his colleagues' unanimous support in posting the reward. "We're not going to tolerate this kind of activity."
According to county fire department arson investigators, the life-size statue of America's 40th president at the entrance to Ronald Reagan Sports Park in Temecula was set aflame on Sept. 20, causing damage to the $100,000 bronze monument.
City officials said donations poured in for repairs, some of which have already been applied.
Temecula resident Paul Jacobs, speaking against the reward, told the board the money could be better spent and suggested using it to help a three- decade-old food pantry facing a shortage of funds ahead of the holiday season, or as a reward for information leading to the identification of suspects in the murder of an area musician, Larry Robinson, who was killed during a robbery earlier this year.
"There's more concern over minor damage to a statue," Jacobs said. "Please consider doing real good rather than something that feels good."
Stone replied that he entered politics to get tough on property vandals and felt strongly that the reward was necessary for the "successful apprehension of the persons involved" in damaging the statue.
Investigators are not sure why the sculpture was targeted. There were no notes or graffiti.
In the meantime, anyone with information was urged to contact the fire department's arson hotline at 800-633-2836.—City News Service