Before dawn on February 1, someone (or multiple people) shattered the glass doors of Santa Barbara Bank and Trust at 1960 Cliff Drive, smashed the screens on the bank’s ATMs, cracked the glass doors of the adjacent Starbucks, and damaged nearby a Wells Fargo ATM. On the Wells Fargo ATM and the wall of the CVS adjacent to it, a vandal spray-painted the words “Class Warfare.”
This is just the most recent instance of property damage in the Mesa. The property manager of Shoreline Plaza at 1819 Cliff Drive previously reported to police that the same Wells Fargo ATM and CVS wall had been vandalized multiple times before, on January 10, 12, and 24. This most recent incident is the most destructive so far, and authorities say that all of the vandalisms appear to be related. According to police, there are no suspects identified. “We’re working with authorities and other financial institutions in the area to resolve this,” said an official from Santa Barbara Bank and Trust.
Sep Wolf, the property manager who initially reported the vandalism, said it looks like someone took a baseball bat to the ATM but that there’s no other damage to the building. “They spray painted anarchy symbols, profanity towards the bank, they mentioned Oakland, and mentioned class wars,” Wolf said. He also noted that the vandals caused about $1,000 worth of property damage due to the need to paint over profanity. He estimates that the blow to Wells Fargo’s business has been much greater. “I’ve seen dozens of people come up to the ATM to use it who are now unable to,” he said. “It’s disturbing to our tenants, and it’s disturbing to our patrons.”
This string of attacks seems to be sparked by frustration with large banking institutions, a sentiment that has been echoed nationwide in various forms, including the Occupy movement. According to police, one of the phrases spray-painted on the wall of CVS alluded to the Occupy Oakland protests. “It said, ‘Don’t fuck with Oakland.’ That’s what I heard,” said Nick Siemion, a local musician.
While none of the area businesses were keen on talking about the vandalism, Siemion had plenty to say about it. “I used to always hang out in front of Starbucks and play my guitar,” he said. “After someone broke the windows a few days ago, they told me I couldn’t stay anymore.” When an area resident came to use the destroyed Wells Fargo ATM, Siemion engaged him in a discussion that quickly turned heated when Nick said that he agreed with the sentiment behind the destruction. “The big banks have done nothing to me,” Siemion remembered the man, an airline pilot, saying. As their debate, which covered topics such as the banking industry, unemployment, and home foreclosures, moved on, Siemion said he qualified his earlier statement, saying, “This isn’t a productive way to encourage dialogue.” He cited stickers posted on ATMs in San Francisco that were thought provoking without harming anyone. The airline pilot and Nick left on amicable terms.
Siemion, who lives in a nearby park and describes himself as a “full-time student,” said that the increased police presence due to the vandalism has made it hard for him to get by. “It’s destructive not only to Wells Fargo and the Bank and Trust, but to people like me who support the cause. It makes you feel a negative energy toward the people who did this.”
SBPD is asking that anyone with information regarding the property damage please call Det. Mike Brown at (805) 897-2340 or call anonymously at (805) 897-2386.