Vandalism tied to 'Lakeland Rocks' craze

Image 1 of 2

Lakeland's newest craze just hit a small stone wall.

People who play Lakeland Rocks paint rocks then hide them for other people to find. They also go out looking for painted rocks that others create.

It has become wildly popular. In the last month or so, it has attracted more than 22,000 players.

"I love it. I'm psyched," said player Todd Williams.

Apparently, a handful of players are getting too psyched up. A rocker defaced public property by painti g a boardwalk.  It took city workers hours of pressure washing to remove the paint. In the process, they took off the the wood's finish.

In Munn Park, players hid rocks in the grass.

"Movers come by and they turn into projectiles," said city spokesman Kevin Cook. "They not only do damage to the blades of the mowers, someone could get seriously hurt with a flying rock."

Cook also recounts an uncomfortable situation in Hollis Garden during a wedding.

"We had a rock searcher walk right in front of the bride in the middle of the wedding," he told FOX 13.

Players have also, probably unintentionally, made a mess in the Garden.

"If someone is coming to Hollis Garden looking for rocks, they don't know which flower bed you hid it in, so they're going to start digging up all the flower beds," said Lakeland Parks and Recreation Director, Bob Donahue.

The city has photos of someone actually scaling the wall surrounding Hollis Garden in the middle of the night to hide rocks there. That's a criminal offense, trespassing.

Lakeland has become a hotbed of activity for people playing the game. Lakeland Rocks has become wildly popular. In the last month or so, it has attracted more than 22,000 players.

Even though there are guidelines on its Facebook page, the founder of Lakeland Rocks, Scott Urhuhart, says it's nearly impossible to monitor every player.

"People are going to do what they want regardless of the rules," he said. "There is always going to be a few in the crowd."

But those few may pay the price for coloring outside the lines.

The city just posted on its Facebook page that the creativity of Lakeland Rocks is totally cool. It also has this warning:

"Please note that all vandalism in public parks is reported to the Lakeland Police