Police: Nails in slides not vandalism, but possible design flaw

Police: Nails in slides not vandalism, but possible design flaw

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OAK LAWN, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

When screws and nails were found sticking out of sliding boards in a southwest suburban park last month, residents and police were understandably concerned.

When it happened again this week, park officials took a closer look and determined the possibly dangerous objects were not purposely placed on the slides, but were a result of the installation process, according to police.

Oak Lawn Police were contacted about 12:30 p.m. Monday to investigate possible vandalism to playground equipment, specifically the new “rocket slide” in Memorial Park at 102nd and Major Avenue, a statement from police said.

An Oak Lawn Park District showed police “a nail protruding from the bottom of a slide which could have injured someone using the slide,” the statement said.

Police had been called to the park to investigate a similar report on June 5, when a report was filed alleging “criminal damage to the same slides at the same park. It was reported that person(s) unknown placed nails in the slides for the purpose of injuring anyone using the equipment,” police said.

“They appeared to have been screwed into the plastic slides, and the tops were knocked off or cut off, “ Parks Supt. Joel Craig told the SouthtownStar at the time. “They were one-eighth to three-sixteenths of an inch sticking up. It was very evident this was deliberate to cause harm to children on the slides.”

In that June incident, the screws and bolts—eight in one slide, two in another—were removed by workers before anyone was hurt, and before police could inspect them. Police did increase patrols at the park.

On Monday, the park workers who repaired the slides the first time said the damage was similar the second time and “... it was determined that the nail, and several others located during the investigation, was not placed maliciously. The nails were part of the manufacturing or installation process of the playground equipment,” police said.

The Park District is now investigating whether the problem is “a design flaw or an installation error,” police said. The slides suffered no structural damage in either incident.

The Police Department “does not believe anyone placed nails into the playground equipment for the purpose of injuring park goers in either incident,” the statement said.

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