A banner that displayed support for the 'Black Lives Matter' movement in Thousand Oaks had been vandalized so often, the owner of the sign installed surveillance cameras to try and catch the perpetrator.
The sign, which had the letters "BLM" painted on it, has been on display along a fence on Westlake Boulevard over the last three weeks. In that time, the banner has been vandalized on at least three different occasions, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. After the banner was damaged again, the owner of the sign put up security cameras to try and catch those responsible.
However, after the owner posted stills of the vandals online, detectives recognized an employee of the Sheriff's office identified as Darrin Stone, 60, who has been working there since 2005.
According to the sheriff's office, Stone was caught on camera slashing the sign with a knife on June 13. Stone is also accused of slashing the sign a second time on June 19.
“I’m deeply disappointed that one of our employees involved himself in this type of illegal activity, especially when this is an infringement on someone’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech,” Sheriff Bill Ayub said in a written statement. “We will not tolerate unlawful or unethical behavior by anyone employed by our agency. We hold our employees to the highest standards, and there will be consequences for this.”
Stone was issued a misdemeanor citation for vandalism and placed on paid administrative leave, pending a criminal and administrative investigation, the Sheriff's Office said in a statement. Stone was off-duty at the time of both incidents, detectives said.
A second incident on May 31 was traced back to a man identified as Craig Anderson, 59, an investigative assistant at the Ventura County District Attorney's Office. Anderson allegedly cut down the sign and was about to remove it from the area when he spotted the camera watching him and left. Anderson was also issued a citatation for vandalism.
According to a statement from the Ventura District Attorney's office on Saturday, Anderson had worked there for the last four months and had resigned - although it's unclear whether he had resigned because of the incident.
“In accordance with District Attorney policy, the misdemeanor vandalism citation will be referred to the Attorney General’s Office for all purposes due to Mr. Anderson’s employment status,” the statement reads.
Detectives also tracked down the suspect in a third incident that occurred on June 11. Jeffrey Moore, 58, stopped in front of the sign in his work truck and allegedly spray painted the sign. Detectives were able to track Moore down using the company name and phone number listed on the work truck.
Moore was also issued a citation for vandalism.
Photo: Getty Images