YORK, Maine — Police have beefed up patrols to Short Sands Beach since the start of the week, after receiving reports that people had vandalized the shipwreck skeleton that has been exposed due to last week’s storm.
The elusive ship, which only appears periodically and typically following a strong spring storm, has drawn swarms of people from around New England, as social media buzzed and stories about it have appeared in newspapers and on television stations nationwide.
The skeleton is believed to be of a “pinky,” a typical fishing and cargo vessel of the 19th century, and could date as far back as the Revolutionary War.
With the influx of people, at least some were apparently observed vandalizing the skeleton, although police said they haven’t seen any act firsthand. Board of Selectmen Chairman Todd Frederick said he received a text that several people were seen breaking off pieces of the ribbing.
“That’s really sad. It’s kind of like robbing a grave,” he said.
York police Sgt. Steven Spofford said police have not been able to confirm whether any vandalism has taken place.
“We have responded to mostly social media complaints but have not witnessed nor can we verify if vandalism happened,” he said.
He said he placed yellow police tape around the area “in an attempt to keep people off of it. And we are checking periodically to make sure no one is damaging it at this time” until it is covered up by sand due to the natural ebb and flow of tides.
Town Manager Steve Burns said it has been ascertained that the skeleton is town property because it is located above the high tide mark. He was at the site on Tuesday and said the place was “swarmed” with people. “I think someone probably was behaving badly and people didn’t like it,” Burns said. “Everyone should leave town property and an historic artifact alone and treat it with respect.”
“We are urging everyone to be respectful and not climb on it or damage it in any way,” Spofford added.
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