New numbers obtained by NBC 7 show vandalism in Balboa Park is on pace to reach its highest level since 2014.
So far, in 2019, police have reported 28 acts of vandalism through Oct. 21 – a number already higher than the 22 cases reported for all of last year.
Now, the organization "Friends of Balboa Park" is calling for more funding to beef up security.
"It's just a disregard for a community asset," says John Bolthouse, executive director of Friends of Balboa Park.
The organization maintains the historic carousel -- a permanent fixture of Balboa Park since 1922 -- which has been the target of eight vandalism attacks in the last 26 months.
Bolthouse shared photos with NBC 7 that show broken glass, etchings into the ticket box, graffiti and even fire damage.
"It makes your heart sink," says Bolthouse. "And the fact that so much of the vandalism is happening on the original fabric of the park, on the carousel, I mean some of that can't be replaced."
He says the park needs more security. He says the handful of guards to cover Balboa Park's 1,200 acres is not enough and he hopes public outcry will push local officials to act.
"Call your representative at City Council," says Bolthouse. "Call the mayor. Encourage them to support properly funding more police presence in Balboa Park, fund park rangers."
Folks enjoying the park Thursday were both surprised and unsettled by the numbers of vandalism cases uncovered by NBC 7.
"I don't understand why someone would do such an ugly thing," says Austin Canum, a Balboa Park visitor.
Since 2014, The San Diego Police Department has reported nearly 150 cases of vandalism within the park.
"It makes me wonder what people might be thinking even to do anything like that," said Renee Segall, a Balboa Park visitor. "It's such a beautiful place, and it's obviously made for the public to enjoy, and why would one want to destroy that, it's just beyond me."
Four streets in the park held the majority of vandalism reports over the last five years – El Prado, Pan American, Zoo and Park, respectively.