AUSTIN (KXAN) - A South Austin couple is at a loss for words after vandals trashed their vacation home, a property that's been in the family for more than 50 years.
The home is part of a picturesque seven-acre homestead surrounded by City of Austin parkland, right off Brodie Lane and south of William Cannon Drive.
The long drive up to the house Richard Nichols grew up in is tree lined and serene; but it changes into a scene of defilement once the house comes into view.
"It's unbelievable. It's just unbelievable that a group has no respect for anybody else's property at all," Nichols said.
Much of an ugly coat of graffiti on the cinder block walls is too graphic to report. Empty spray cans litter the front yard. Someone even took a sledgehammer to the walls themselves. Every single frame of the old casement windows on both levels of the 2,400 square foot home is broken.
Much of what was inside has been tossed outside, through those broken windows: mattresses, blankets, family photos and antique furniture including a wooden infant bassinette.
Richard and his wife Sandy live in Lockhart and used this old property as a weekend home in the city.
"We're still in shock and we've seen this for over a week," Sandy said. "On the way up here we were talking about what would make somebody do this?"
There are no easy answers and no enemies the couple says. Heading inside, shattered memories crunch under Richard's feet. Even the cabinets where antique dishes and glasses were stored for decades are torn open.
"What used to be a dining room is now nothing but rubble, trash from them tearing up everything," he said.
As this 61-year-old Marine and Vietnam veteran walked upstairs to his mother's old room, it's easy to see how his heart is bruised.
"She was very clean person," he said. "This would kill her to see her room done like this."
Richard and Sandy aren't sure they can afford to have the mess cleaned up to even see if the house itself, built in the 1940s, is worth salvaging.
"This was a house that had nothing but memories in it all my life," Richard said, looking around at graffiti spray painted onto the ceiling of his sister's old room.
Burglary detectives say the property was vacant for the month of May, creating a long timeline. They say there's not much to go on for sure, except fingerprints which could take months to come back.
A 1951 Studebaker pickup truck in the yard was also vandalized, as was a later model truck. A stolen car was also parked on the property. It was a vehicle police impounded soon after Sandy Nichols called to report the vandalism on June 5.
Austin Police are likely going to have a tough time solving this case. Since 2000, the department has recorded more than 126,000 cases in Austin.
In that same time period they've only made about 3,300. That means police have only made arrests in three percent of cases.
The Nichols family says video surveillance was installed, but was knocked down by the vandals who also cut the power to the home. What's more, they appeared to have stayed awhile, possibly at night, evidenced by the row of burned candles on a shelf in an upper bedroom.
They're offering a $2,000 reward leading to the arrest of the people involved in what might have been multiple visits to the home.
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