Police received a Crime Stoppers tip and arrested Swafford at 11:30 Thursday morning. He is charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, criminal mischief and burglary. He has three prior burglary arrests.
The playground, located on Beach 29th Street in Far Rockaway, was nearly complete on March 20 when Swafford allegedly stole an excavator parked in the area overnight and rammed through a chain link fence. They then wrecked the new equipment, including slides
The incident caused 100-thousand dollars worth of damage.
The arrest was welcomed news to community leaders.
"Let this send a message to any criminal element in our midst: Far Rockaway is turning a new page, and this kind of senseless vandalism will no longer be tolerated," said Councilman James Sanders Jr. "This playground will be completed and will open, so that our children will always have a safe place to play and enjoy the great outdoors. Our community refuses to let a senseless and idiotic act of vandalism prevent the residents of B. 29th street from enjoying a playground they deserve."
The Parks Department is hoping to open up sometime this summer.
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