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Vidalia PD Probing Cinema Vandalism

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The Vidalia Police Department is investigating vandalism that heavily damaged the Sweet Onion Cinema’s men’s restroom. Investigators state they have a few leads in the case, which they hope to solve before any further damage is done. Over the course of two weekends, beginning January 1, the theater restroom sustained just under $5,000 worth of damage. Owner Melanie Parker said that she had just gotten home on New Year’s Day when she received the first photo of damage to the property. “I got a text from one of our workers, and I was so confused,” she remarked. “I just kept looking at pictures, and finally I asked him (the worker) what I was looking at; that’s when he told me the bathrooms had been vandalized.”

Vandals forcibly removed the automated tops of many urinals before throwing them into the fixture and destroying them. They also cracked one of the urinals, leaving it unusable. The Cinema did not close to the public after that event because the number of bathroom facilities that were functional met the requirements of the Health Department. Yet, the next weekend, the same damage occurred to the remaining fixtures, forcing a temporary closure.

“I just cannot understand what would make someone want to come to a place like this and just destroy things,” Parker emphasized.

Police reports were filed after each instance, and Parker shared that she hopes the culprit will be found soon.

The Sweet Onion Cinema reopened to the public in December after previously closing due to complications caused by the COVID pandemic. The refurbished cinema featured several renovations to the lobby area and theater seats, which provided guests with a new comfort and quality of cinema in Vidalia.

“We hosted schools before Christmas, and were busy often before these events,” she commented. “Everyone has been so excited and supportive of the reopening, and I hope that a few vandals don’t continue to ruin it for everyone.”

Since the vandalism, the Cinema reopened last Saturday after a week-long closure to repair damages, and saw no new damage throughout the weekend.

Parker explained it is the continued support of the community, which inspires her to continue with the business despite everything. “So many people have been so supportive during this time and it has not gone unnoticed,” she concluded. “We love this community and love serving the community. No one can take that away.”

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