by: ST. HELENS POLICE DEPARTMENT - The vandals did not discriminate in where they placed the graffiti, spraying the orange paint on bushes as well as buildings and street signs.  The graffiti was everywhere: "FTP" was spray-painted in bright orange on the sides of homes and vehicles, on businesses and even shrubbery along Columbia Blvd between U.S. Highway 30 and North Vernonia Road in St. Helens.

The graffiti appeared sometime between Feb. 6 and 7.

By midday Feb. 7, St. Helens Police Officer Dow Tobin had arrested Joseph Wayne Gates, 36, and Vanessa Lynn Workman, 33, transients who are known to frequent the Forest Park Apartments off Columbia Blvd.

They both had orange spray paint on their hands and clothes at the time of their arrest.

While police couldn't uncover a motive for the graffiti, Gates told the officer simply that he and Workman were "being stupid."

Gates was charged with first-degree criminal mischief. Workman was charged with first-degree criminal mischief and a probation violation. Both were lodged at the Columbia County Jail.

Lt. Terry Moss said graffiti cases can be difficult to solve since they typically lack evidence and witnesses.

"This case was solved through the tenacious police work of an officer who was familiar with the community and criminals who live here," Moss said.

The total cost to repair the damage done by the most recent graffiti is not known, but likely will stretch into the hundreds of dollars.

Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact the St. Helens Police Department at 503-397-1521.

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