Homeless man vandalizes downtown buildings to get arrested

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. Luke Ressegieu is responsible for breaking windows on the corner of 5th St. and Dewey as well as the Pawnee Hotel.

A homeless man broke a window at the Pawnee Hotel in order to be arrested and sent to jail. (Source: Jace Barraclough/KNOP)

According to Beth Kerr of the North Platte Police Department Ressegieu is homeless and purposefully did it so he could be arrested and sent to jail where he would have a bed and a warm place to stay.

Ranae Brandt is an advocate of the historical buildings downtown. She said the issues surrounding the vandalism are making it harder for that area to grow.

"There's a negative perception that goes with having the vagrants around. It really hinders downtown and its progression. There's also the cost to our community as far as police officers needing to be used to go investigate vandalism and to investigate break-ins," said Brandt.

Aside from the vandalism, buildings like the Pawnee can be dangerous for law enforcement to enter.

"Somebody calls and says I saw a flashlight on the third floor, well that means somebody's in an abandoned building and they're not supposed to be. So, we have to search that building and either find the person or verify room-by-room and closet-by-closet that there's nobody in that building," said Kerr.

"We have no idea what the risk is. We don't know if that person is armed or who that person is, nor what their intentions are. But, that's our job and that's why we're here. We're taught and trained how to search buildings as safely as possible," she said.

There's also the historical integrity which weakens the longer the building sits vulnerable and empty.

'The Pawnee is pretty special in that 90% of it is original. If you're having people going in there and causing vandalism or keeping it open to the elements, we're really destroying a lot of that which is original and would be very costly to replace or replicate," said Brandt.

Officer Kerr said the owners of the various abandoned buildings should also enlist the help of friends and family to protect their properties.

"Talk to people, have them keep an eye on your place. The police department already knows the Pawnee Hotel is a vulnerable target. We do as much extra patrol we can, but we also have the rest of North Platte to patrol as well so we can't catch everything," said Kerr.