A string of vandalism and loitering has forced the Atascadero Colony Museum to shut its doors for the time being.
"There's a concern. We're concerned for our visitors and our members," said Jim Wilkins, president of the Atascadero Historical Society.
Wilkins said the museum has always had an issue with transients loitering on the property, but recently there has been an uptick in vandalism.
- Photo Courtesy Of Jim Wilkins
- VANDALIZED The Atascadero Colony Museum is temporarily closed to ensure the safety of its visitors, docents, and members.
In the beginning of October, he said, a group of transients kicked over and broke a 104-year-old fountain on the museum property.
The following day, he said, a man who looked to be intoxicated came into the museum.
"This guy went in there and kind of looked really strung out, and it scared [a female docent]," Wilkins said. "Our lead archivist happened to be there that day, and he's a little bit of a stocky guy. He came out, and the guy bolted out of there."
In a separate incident, a docent witnessed a drug deal in a nearby parking lot and called the police. When police arrived, one of the individuals involved in the deal ran into the museum and hid in one of the rooms.
That was when the Atascadero Historical Society decided as a board to close its doors.
According to the Atascadero Police Department, the museum is located right next to the creek where there's been a history of criminal issues.
"We have had illegal camping, vandalism, and theft issues there for years. We have experienced an increase lately, as has the rest of that area," the police department stated via email. "The creek access and the museum's setback and limited visibility from the street has contributed to the issue. This is not limited to the museum; we have had a noticeable increase in the area between East Mall and the creek."
Department officials said they added foot patrol assignments in that area to supplement patrol and are partnering with the probation department, which has units checking the area for probationers.
Wilkins said the historical society is looking to reopen its doors in January, but not before installing security cameras. He said they're looking for assistance with installing the cameras, landscaping, and handiwork. Δ