More than six weeks ago, vandals used croquet mallets to destroy the interior of the historical banker’s house and smash several windows at The Landing – Minnesota River Heritage Park, and Shakopee police are calling on the public to help identify the people responsible.
“There’s significant dollar amounts of damage and we are relying on the public’s help,” Sgt. Jamie Pearson said.
The buildings were vandalized the evening of Monday, Aug. 17. The vandals broke into the banker’s house on the property and found croquet mallets, said Bill Walker, supervisor of historical interpretation for Three Rivers Park District.
“They found the croquet mallets and used those as hammers and bats and just destroyed everything in the house,” Walker said. “It was the worst case of vandalism that I’ve seen at the park.”
Walker said the vandals smashed everything from walls to light fixtures. Worst of all, they smashed a donated 1889 parlor organ that had been restored to pristine condition.
“That was heartbreaking because that was just donated to us a few years ago,” Walker said. “(The scene) was right out of ‘The Shining.’ All the picture frames, all the China, all the furnishings.”
Walker said they discovered a charred pillowcase and quilt, too, indicating the vandals had attempted to start a fire.
Shakopee police posted surveillance photos on Facebook of the suspects in August, along with an offer of a $500 reward for information that leads to an arrest.
“Based on the surveillance images I believe they’re probably juveniles, but without identifying them it’s hard to say for certain,” Pearson said.
Originally, the SPD Facebook post included photos of vehicles, but Pearson said police have ruled out the vehicles as being connected to the case. The photos have since been removed from the Facebook post.
There are up to seven people involved, Pearson said, but she is “most interested in the photo of the three people.”
Three Rivers Park District maintains The Landing, located off Highway 101 in Shakopee, adjacent to the Minnesota River. Historical buildings are placed throughout the park as a timeline from the preterritorial era through the late 1800s.
Thankfully, Walker said, nothing that was damaged was a last surviving artifact from the past, but all of the items were authentic antiques, making them difficult to replace.
“You can’t just remake (these items),” Walker said. “We’ll end up scouring local antique shops to replace what was damaged.”
Walker said the incident was even more heartbreaking because the park had just unveiled its new interpretive signs, which allow park visitors to use their phone to scan QR codes on signs and follow a virtual, 360-degree tour of the building interiors while they are inaccessible to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were just putting those signs out there,” Walker said. “The good news is, we have a really good record of what was in that building.”
Due to the severity of the vandalism, Walker is hoping those responsible can be brought to justice and pay for some of the damage.
“It’s sad. This is a public park … so it’s public tax dollars that are going to go to fix this stuff,” he said. “We’d really like to catch these folks.”
To submit information in this case, contact Sgt. Jamie Pearson at JPearson@ShakopeeMN.gov or at 952-233-9422.