SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. — Crystal Smith was ready to open her brand-new pet-grooming shop until she discovered her building was spray-painted with vulgar language in July.
Smith, owner of Angel Pets, rented an empty unit, the former Fishmonger Seafood Restaurant, in Surfside Beach to open a dog-washing station.
She discovered expletive language sprayed on the side of the building, at 1511 S. U.S. 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 Surfside Beach Police report states that there is no follow-up investigation into the incident at this time.
Investigators speculate the 239 is likely a reference to an area code in southwest Florida and ATK refers to the street gang All Time Kings. She said she was devastated by the profane defacement of the property.
"It hurt my heart," she said.
Smith said she will not let vandalism stop her from achieving her goal and plans to open her business soon.
Morris Massree, the landlord of the property, also notified the police as the vandalism continued. He said he is not sure if the incident was gang-related, and does not understand why the business was vandalized.
"It's pretty vulgar," Massree said. "People drive by and look at that stuff ... and that's not fair to (Crystal). That's not at all fair to her."
This is 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 tags, which will take between 5 and 10 gallons of paint.
Massree repainted the building five years ago, a project costing almost $10,000 and expects to pay more to cover up all the graffiti this year, he said.
According to the police report, the property damage is estimated at $1,000. Massree said he hopes the vandal faces charges.
"I want these people who did it to pay for what they did," he said. "This is vile, this is beyond vile."