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Defacing a statue in Georgia? It's a crime

Police in Savannah, Georgia, are searching for the culprit or culprits who decided to alter the statue of a Revolutionary War general with what they're calling "googly eyes."

Recently, someone covered the sculptured eyes on the historic statue of Nathanael Greene that stands in the city's Johnson Square area with the round, white, plastic dots covered with black eyeballs. They are similar to the plastic eyes that often are found in the small toy vending machines at the front of supermarkets.

Just an innocent prank? Not according to the city of Savannah, which posted before-and-after photos of General Greene on its Facebook page with the following statement:

"Who did this?! Someone placed googly eyes on our historic #NathanaelGreene statue in #JohnsonSquare. It may look funny but harming our historic monuments and public property is no laughing matter, in fact, it's a crime.

"We are hoping to find the person responsible! If you have information, please call Savannah Police Department."

The Savannah Morning News reported that in Georgia, a person who defaces or defiles a grave marker, monument or memorial to anyone who did duty in the military can be charged with criminal trespass.

Criminal trespass is a misdemeanor unless the damage exceeds $500. If that's the case, it becomes a felony charge of criminal damage to property, the newspaper reported.

The amount of monetary damage wasn't immediately known.

Greene served in the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War. He is buried in Johnson Square.

Even if the people who commit small acts of vandalism think it's funny and no harm is done, the latter isn't true. There are often costs attached to repair or replace the item that has been damaged, along with a bit of damage to community pride. If convicted of such charges, a person's criminal record will reflect it. No matter how small the offense might seem, an attorney still should be consulted to offer guidance on how to proceed.

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