Toms River man stole blue paint from Home Depot for pro-police line, cops say
TOMS RIVER — Police say a thief illegally painted a pro-police blue line down the middle of a street — and did so using stolen paint.
David Giordano, 43, a township resident, was identified a week earlier as the person who took it upon himself to paint a blue line, which had been pitched by the Ocean County Sheriff in support of law enforcement.
Giordano has an "extensive history with the Toms River Police Department and justice system," according to police, who recently had charged him with theft, burglary and criminal mischief for breaking out his impounded bucket truck from a locked lot along Route 9. It had been impounded more than 300 days earlier over unpaid bills, according to police.
On Monday, police said that Home Depot store surveillance video showed Giordano shoplifting the 11 cans of blue spray paint that he used to apply the illegal line. He has now been charged with shoplifting as well as possession of drugs and paraphernalia.
"While we appreciate the overwhelming support for law enforcement, we can not condone the defacing of any property," police had said in a written statement following the nighttime incident on March 29.
Ocean County Commissioner Gary Quinn previously told New Jersey 101.5 that separate surveillance video shows Giordano with his arm out the window of a car as he painted the blue line, which a road crew painted over the next day.
Ocean County Sheriff Mike Mastronadry had proposed the idea of the blue line after attending a meeting of the Monmouth County Police Chief's Association.
"Right now people are demonizing our law enforcement and public safety and they should show support for us," Mastronardy told New Jersey 101.5 earlier.
Instead, county commissioners heeded county engineers saying the line would violate DOT regulations, voting to put up 75 flags as an alternate sign of support.
"From what I've been told, he's had some issues with law enforcement, which is kind of ironic for him to put a blue line on the road supporting law enforcement," Quinn previously said of police accusing Giordano of the unsanctioned line painting.
Blue lines painted on streets and the symbolism of the blue line have faced criticism since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis nearly a year ago.
Flemington Mayor Betsy Driver had the blue line covered on Main Street hours before a Black Lives Matter protest in June, calling it a "shameful, divisive dividing line" that made some residents and visitors feel unwelcome and threatened.
A panel to review racial issues in Holmdel concluded in a preliminary report that a blue line painted outside the municipal building in 2016 has a different meaning in 2021.
“The symbol has been appropriated by white supremacists groups and the Blue Line now has the effect of making some members of our community feel unwelcome, and even threatened, in Holmdel. The HRC finds this impact unacceptable,” the Ad Hoc Human Relations Committee wrote in its preliminary report.
The report drew criticism from residents and Deputy Mayor Cathy Weber, who served on the panel, later apologized for the "hurtful" language of the report and noted that the panel only recommended not maintaining the current line.