Vandals splashed red-paint graffiti on the outer walls of the city's new downtown parking garage on Main Street late Monday night or early Tuesday.
Mayor Peter M. Green denounced the vandalism, which caused an estimated $5,000 damage.
"The downtown merchants have to put up with all the construction problems (with downtown redevelopment), and now something like this happens," the mayor said. "The City Council has been thinking about putting another police substation in the downtown area because problems there have been getting worse."
The glaring graffiti, in large red letters, included the message "Catch Me If You Can." Other statements splashed in red paint were: "Crime Wave" and "Craziness." The graffiti was on walls facing Main Street.
"The city's going to have to sandblast to get this graffiti off," Green said.
The $8.6-million parking structure, on Main between Olive and Walnut streets, is a keystone of the city's downtown redevelopment plan. The parking building was constructed for shoppers and restaurant and theater patrons visiting the downtown area.
Officer J. B. Hume, a police spokesman, said police believe that the same vandals also marked a building at the Seacliff County Club with graffiti Monday night or early Tuesday.
The graffiti included a symbol like those of street gangs, splashed on several walls of the parking structure. Hume, however, said there was no immediate connection of the vandalism with any area gang.
"It's probably not an organized gang, but it may be connected with skateboarders," Hume said. Police have been cracking down in recent months on skateboarders who may be endangering pedestrians in the downtown area.