Police & Fire

Westfield Student Believes School Rivalry Motivated Theft, Vandalism in Fanwood

A WHS grad living in Fanwood said her graduation sign was stolen from their yard and her car was vandalized. Credits: Jill D'Ambrosio

FANWOOD, NJ — A Westfield High School student whose mother recently moved to Fanwood said her graduation sign was stolen from their yard and her car was vandalized.

Kate Helander said she found feces smeared across her car last Thursday. Then on Tuesday, she said, her 2016 Westfield High School graduation lawn sign was stolen from her front yard.

The family has not filed a report with the police or pressed charges. No perpetrators have stepped forward, and Helander’s sign has not been returned, she said.

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“I was nervous when my mom moved to Fanwood because of the rivalry,” said Helander, who attended WHS for all four of her high school years. “I actually hesitated originally about putting my graduation up. I was worried someone would do something to the sign, but I was excited about graduating so I put it up anyway.”

Helander believed the motive of the incident most likely stemmed from the Westfield High School/Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School athletic rivalry.

“I really think that the rivalry should stick to sports and not target individuals,” Helander said. “The rivalry has been fun at sporting events as long as it was in good taste and not extreme. It has been malicious in the past, which takes away from the fun of it.”

Helander had some words for the people who took her lawn sign and vandalized her car:

“I would ask them to think about their actions beforehand.To them I'm sure that this was just a meaningless prank, but it's been hard enough having to explain my living situation to my peers without experiencing backlash like this,” she said. “I would encourage them to look beyond the rivalry and put themselves in my shoes. I'm sure that if they are Scotch Plains kids that they wouldn't feel completely comfortable having to live in Westfield.”

Helander said she does not have any ill will toward SP-F.

“I have some awesome friends from Scotch Plains and Fanwood, and know that this isn't something that the vast majority of the SPF kids would do,” Helander said. “It was a really unfortunate incident, but I'm not letting it taint my view on the town or the kids that live there.”

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