Keen cab driver phones in taggings; two arrested


Vandals defaced several signs and businesses in the Ski Time Square area early Wednesday morning. Steamboat Springs police officers arrested two suspects later Wednesday.

— What began as a slow Tuesday night for Alpine Taxi driver Rod McCormack ended with two men facing felony charges on suspicion of tagging signs and windows in the Ski Time Square area.

"I noticed this guy come walking around Wired, walking up to a couple of windows and construction signs : and start tagging them," McCormack said. "A couple of times he looked right at me. He was so brazen about it."

McCormack, who works overnight shifts for Alpine Taxi, called Steamboat Springs police to report the vandalism at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Police arrested Michael Edward Benninghoven, 29, of Steamboat Springs and Michael Patrick Zapke, 26, also of Steamboat, near Village Drive and Walton Creek Road on suspicion of felony criminal mischief. Benninghoven also faces charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a revoked license.

Steamboat Springs Police Capt. Joel Rae commended McCormack's actions. Rae said it's often difficult to make arrests involving graffiti or tagging.

"If it weren't for him, we probably wouldn't have gotten these guys," Rae said.

Rae said Benninghoven and Zapke apparently used a permanent blue, broad-tipped paint pen to deface several city and construction signs with the initials "WB" or "WBZ," "3-on-3," and what Rae described as "swirly letters."

The graffiti caused more than $500 worth of damage, he said.

McCormack, who recently moved to Steamboat from Denver, said such damage is unacceptable.

"I look at it like this - this is my town now, so if I see somebody doing this here, I'm going to call the cops because I don't want to see that," he said. "This is a beautiful town, and we should keep it that way. Senseless tagging is just that - senseless. There's no need for it."

Rae said he was appreciative of McCormack's quick reaction and ability to discreetly follow Benninghoven and Zapke until officers arrived.

"Good for him for being a good citizen," he said.

Officers have taken dozens of graffiti and vandalism reports this summer, from Ski Time Square to Howelsen Hill and areas along the Yampa River Core Trail.

"More and more of it is popping up," Rae said. "There definitely seems to be a lot of it this summer."

Benninghoven and Zapke appeared in Routt County Court on Wednesday for advisement. Benninghoven's bond was set at $10,000. He is scheduled to appear in court at 1 p.m. Sept. 12. Zapke's bond was set at $5,000. He is scheduled to appear in court at 2 p.m. Sept. 26.

Attempts to contact Benninghoven and Zapke about the incident were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Community comments

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(Anonymous) dundalk says...


I don't completely disagree with the notion of judging a book by its cover. I did not see a picture of these hoodlums, so I can't speak to that issue. However, in today's society, people do judge by looks. It's a fact, reality and just the way it is. Is it right? Politically correct? Who's to say. Hell, Ted Bundy looked pretty clean cut and we all know what he did.

The issue is that these hoodlums, if guilty of all the multiple offenses of tagging that have befallen our part of town, are the true taggers, I say the book should be thrown at them.

Cappel, do you own property here in town? Do you take pride in the appearance of your home? DO you work hard to beautify your little piece of ground? DO you know what it is like to wake in the morning and find someone's interpretation of art scrawled across your property? I will tell you my good man, its irritating and aggravating. It's not just my walls that have been sprayed but many homes and mailboxes in this part of town.

If these taggers are artists, then fine...give them a legal forum where we can view their artwork. I'd probably go to see it. The taggers' artwork in Los Angeles is unbelievable and a marvel, but the bottom line is that its illegal and it costs homeowners money to have it removed.

Amputation of digits...I jest. But I do think that some VERY SERIOUS community service is required. I wouldn't mind if these taggers took their talents to the proper art class.

Posted 7 September 2007, 6:53 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) RoxyDad says...

Cheers to Rod McCormack !!!

Posted 6 September 2007, 6:18 a.m. Suggest removal

(dave reynolds) paddlefisher says...

PUNKS..way to go Rod...not real smart DUI with revoked license

Posted 6 September 2007, 6:48 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) colobob says...

......................maybe 500 hours of community service cleaning up the areas that this pair helped to deface would drive the point home!

Posted 6 September 2007, 7:01 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) SteamboatJoe says...

26 and 29! How many of us were damaging property in our late twenties? Scum. I would expect that from some kids.

Posted 6 September 2007, 7:39 a.m. Suggest removal

(Jason Miller) jester1cp says...

I was surprised at how old they are,you think it would be a couple of high school kids.

Posted 6 September 2007, 7:41 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) OneFly says...

i hope they get plenty too! watch coach johnson on this recent tagging.
wish these people would get caught too

Posted 6 September 2007, 7:45 a.m. Suggest removal

(Andrew Bisbee) biz says...

It will only get worse around here unless people like Rod keep up the fight. Nice work buddy. I, like you would hate to see Steamboat looking like the bigger cities. No Ghetto!
-andrew bisbee

Posted 6 September 2007, 8:10 a.m. Suggest removal

(Brian Smith) mTnsmith says...

Thank you Mr. McCormack!
Community service is a great idea, 26 & 29?? Unbelievable.

Posted 6 September 2007, 8:24 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) thecondoguy1 says...

nothing depreciates a community faster than grafitti, it demoralizes, defaces, and depreciates, it is the lowest form of passive assult imaginable. Mr. McCormack should be deputized, it is very difficult to catch these cowards and the night riders are in a position to contribute.
Thank you Mr. McCormack................

Posted 6 September 2007, 9:07 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) seeuski says...

Great community service Mr. McCormack: This problem has been terrible all summer. The bathrooms at slopeside, The new condos on Village dr. to name a few. Why won't the pilot print photos of these useless"Old Punks" so the good people of the Boat can sneer and jeer the scumbags out of town.

Posted 6 September 2007, 9:18 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) dundalk says...

As a property owner who has fallen prey to these little hoodlums, I say bravo to the cabbie who reported these goons. My remedy would be amputation of the little buggers tagging fingers as well as the digits being fed to the dogs, but alas, the kids will probably get a parade and lessons in artistic merits.

Posted 6 September 2007, 9:48 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) another_local says...

The pictures of these 20 something juvenile delinquents are in today's paper. They look like a pair of losers. I hope they throw the book at them.

Posted 6 September 2007, 10:41 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) id04sp says...

What is the source of income for these two guys?

Posted 6 September 2007, 11:20 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) grafman6969 says...

Those hoodlums. The bombs where wack anyway.

Posted 6 September 2007, 11:23 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) cappel77 says...

To another_local. Who are you to judge someones character on looks alone. "They look like a pair of losers" It's people like you who don't think before they speak that give us "locals" a bad name. And to dundalk. Though I am sorry for the damage done to your property by these "hoodlums" you can't be serious about amputating there fingers. I know Mr. Benninghoven and he gets plenty of good merit from his artwork hanging up in various businesses around town. Are you saying this community condons these acts by saying "the kids will probably get a parade and lessons in artistic merits"? Give us some credit.

Posted 6 September 2007, 10:27 p.m. Suggest removal

(dave reynolds) paddlefisher says...

Your PAL disgraced your credit he showed his true colors by TAGGING,,sounds like you appauld him for his want credit start by policing yourselves..its pretty simple what he did was WRONG and disrespectful..its called vandlism.his actions speak for themselves

Posted 7 September 2007, 5:15 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) thecondoguy1 says...

these people are not artists, they are disrespectiful selfish bums, they are criminals defacing our property and devalueing our hard earned assets, they should be prosecuted with or without their fowl digits...........
on second thought they will need their digits to make license plates and break rocks.......

Posted 7 September 2007, 9:17 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) thecondoguy1 says...

P.S. if it looks like a duck it's usually a duck, humans are visual beings, if you look like a bum, you can hope the dogs will be attracted to you, they get most of their information by smell.........

Posted 7 September 2007, 9:21 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) snowsdope says...

Such hypocracy! Who in this town has actually done anything but bitch and moan about the "Aspenization" of our beautiful valley which has caused the hassle and eyesores caused by this summers construction? I would encourage the members of this community to look outside the box, think for yourself, and not accept the spoon-fead opinion of the Steamboat Pilot. Their actions, however mislead, are in essence, virtious in nature. I whole heartedly applaude Mr. Benninghoven's unfortunately misunderstud act of civil disobedience. Has anyone took into consideration that the vandalized business in question is schedueled for demolition within the next month and in not owned by the businesses proprietor? I for one, am glad that one person has the gumption to acutally DO something he believes in, not just talk about it. Remember, talk is cheap cause you're not in the paper.

Posted 8 September 2007, 5:26 a.m. Suggest removal

(chris gibbens) biff says...

Cut fingers off, 500 hrs. community service. This was magic markers on windows ( cleans with windex ), and metal road signs in a construction zone of soon to be torn down buildings. Some of you need to take a poop!

Posted 8 September 2007, 5:34 p.m. Suggest removal

(dave reynolds) paddlefisher says...

The house of Shade was going to be remodeled still doesn't make it right what those Punks did..same like what he did offer up your home/apt. for tagging so businesss,signs,portable toilets etc. don't if you like looking at it then pony up your car too..problem solved..its about respect and what he did is against the law..have too agree your last line is classic

Posted 9 September 2007, 6:35 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) madmoores says...

"Some of you need to take a poop"

Posted 8 September 2007, 7:20 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) dundalk says...


The tagging on my property was on a concrete wall, in black spray paint. Last time I checked, Windex doesn't quite get the paint off.

Posted 9 September 2007, 8 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) thecondoguy1 says...

paddle, very well said......
Dundalk, sorry about your wall, it's going to need sand blasting ........p.s. leaving for Ireland on the 20th. following your itinerary pretty close.

Posted 9 September 2007, 11:23 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) dundalk says...

Ah, have a wonderful time and enjoy the Emerald isle!

Cead Mile Failte!

Posted 9 September 2007, 3:27 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) Yorkie says...

I didn't know there are so very many, purely innocent people in our fair town, that they can live freely in that glass house and not be afraid of the stones that are cast.

Posted 9 September 2007, 6:05 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) dundalk says...

Where can we send the taggers so that they can emblazen your pious words across your front door?

Posted 10 September 2007, 7:55 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) cappel77 says...

Paddlefisher, maybe Yorkie stands for the dog, not the city. There you go again, judging ppl you don't know strictly off of words they say or actions they've done. I do not applaud Mr. Benninghovens actions, I do believe he should be punished and yes dundalk, I do own property here and take pride in it. We've established that it was against the law and punishment should be handed out. Let's quit beating a dead horse. I'd hate read all of your comments on the other , much more important issues going on in this town. And so what if the same ppl are getting on here leaving comments with different names. Maybe they're just trying to ruffle your feathers paddlefisher. Looks like it's working.

Posted 12 September 2007, 6:35 a.m. Suggest removal

(dave reynolds) paddlefisher says...

Yorkie...I do not live in a glass house have cast mant stones.but I wrote on walls doors etc. when I WAS THREE AND FOUR NOT TWENTY NINE..seems you got your pals to post here under differents IDS OK..but bottom line its wrong against the law and he should be punished..what part of that dont you understand..all of it I guess..if you're ID is any indecation you must be from the big city a used to this crap

Posted 11 September 2007, 4:58 a.m. Suggest removal

(dave reynolds) paddlefisher says...


Posted 12 September 2007, 6:40 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) Yorkie says...


Posted 13 September 2007, 10:42 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) id04sp says...


Have you tried a gel-type paint remover on that concrete wall? EZ-Strip or something is the name of it. It's in a rectangular blue and white can with a screw top. It dissolves the paint and washes off with water. It might take several applications but it might help.

Also, you might try a muriatic acid wash. The acid dissolves the portland cement in the concrete. This is how they clean mortar from the faces of bricks, grout from the surface of quarry tile, etc. Dissolving the thin layer of concrete that the paint is stuck to would make the paint come off. Try it on a small spot after you've washed off the gel stuff.

Posted 13 September 2007, 11:18 a.m. Suggest removal

(dave reynolds) paddlefisher says... my first fragment..I have done several wrongs in my life not proud of them but they happen..Yorksire Terrier..good for you..but all I was saying is tagging is childish and agaisnt the law...and at 29 years olds you'd think he out grew it guess far as ppl posting was least I'll admit it

Posted 13 September 2007, 6:10 p.m. Suggest removal

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