SURFSIDE BEACH, SC — Crystal Smith was all set to open her brand new pet grooming boutique until she discovered her building was spray-painted with foul language in July.
Smith, owner of Angel Pets, rented an empty unit, the former Fishmonger Seafood Restaurant, in Surfside Beach to open a dog wash station.
She discovered expletive language sprayed on the side of the building at 1511 SUS Highway 17 last month and a few days later found a gang signature reading “239 Misery ATK.”
Smith reported the vandalism to the Surfside Police Department on July 31. A report from Surfside Beach Police says there is no follow-up investigation into the incident at this time.
Investigators speculate that 239 is likely a reference to an area code in southwest Florida and ATK refers to the All Time Kings street gang. She said she was devastated by the profane degradation of the property.
“It hurt my heart,” she said.
Smith said she won’t let vandalism stop her from achieving her goal and plans to open her business soon.
Morris Massree, the owner of the property, also notified police as the vandalism continued. He said he didn’t know if the incident was gang-related and he didn’t understand why the business was vandalized.
“It’s pretty vulgar,” Massree said. “People drive by and watch this stuff…and it’s not fair to (Crystal). It’s not fair to her at all.”
It’s the first time the building has been vandalized in 40 years, Massree said. He plans to fly from Florida to South Carolina to cover up the graffiti, which will require between 5 and 10 gallons of paint.
Massree repainted the building five years ago, a project costing nearly $10,000 and plans to pay more to cover up all the graffiti this year, he said.
According to the police report, property damage is estimated at $1,000. Massree said he hoped the vandal would face charges.
“I want those people who did it to pay for what they did,” he said. “It’s despicable, it’s beyond despicable.”