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Camp Vandalism near Safety Sparks Trooper Investigation

Paul Kosto's grandmother's trailer in Hastings.

Reports of break-ins and vandalism at camps near the Safety Roadhouse are shaking up the community of Nome this week, prompting an investigation by Alaska State Troopers.

As of Tuesday, two incidents were officially on file, but families with camps east of Nome say they’re seeing recurring theft and destruction of property.

Mo Koezuna, paralegal for the District Attorney in Nome, said she was alarmed by what her son and grandkids found at their family cabin last Thursday.

“I didn’t think it was that bad until they started showing pictures and…they dumped all the sugar and the salt and the pepper, every liquid in the cabin, all over the floor. It was so sticky and so messy,” said Koezuna. “They put poop—several piles of poop—on the middle of the floor, on the windows, all over the air compressor. It was just a mess.”

Koezuna’s cabin was not the only victim of recent vandalism. In a separate incident on file with Troopers, an ATV was stolen and driven around until it ran out of gas and was left on the beach. On Tuesday, Alaska State Trooper Honie Culley confirmed that the stolen ATV was recovered, and the two reported incidents were in the same area during the same timeframe and could be connected. As of Tuesday, the incidents were still under investigation.

Koezuna said other neighbors by Safety Sound found their trucks with slashed tires and cabins with broken windows.

Paul Kosto and his family have a camp at Hastings, about ten miles west of Safety, and over the weekend, they found their trailer trashed. The microwave and cabinets were thrown outside the trailer and a big section of the wall was torn away. He said broken glass was everywhere.

“Somebody had spent a little bit of time working at destroying it, breaking every window and so forth… Quite frankly, making a mess. And having little kids—my son is 20 months old—I don’t need him in the glass,” said Kosto.

Though Kosto said he is frustrated, he is opting not to bring his complaints to the Troopers yet. He said he has an idea of who is responsible for the damage and is investigating some clues on his own. But Kosto said his bigger concern is the lack of trust and respect for people’s property.

“It may be somebody that you know in the grocery store and you say hi to all the time, and then here you’ve been violated by that person. Nome’s nice and small and it’s a community. And then you start losing trust in that,” said Kosto.

Koezuna said she is noticing the community joining together in support. She said other community members are establishing a reward fund to locate the suspects. For now, both she and Kosto are urging others to check their cabins regularly, and Kosto said people should take pictures of anything out of the ordinary at their camp. Anyone with information on the recent vandalism is asked to contact the Alaska State Troopers.