Spotted: Minneapolis 'tiny door' vandal apparently caught in the act


For now, the case of the street artist building tiny doors in Minneapolis versus the vandal dismantling them remains in the court of public opinion.

Though some day, it might actually land before a real judge. 

Last week, we brought you the story of Mows, the artist behind a set of precious little constructions that recently started popping up around the city: Northeast, the North Loop, a purple, Prince-themed one across the street from First Avenue.

Through early May, Mows -- whose works can also be found in California, among other places --  says he'd built about five dozen of the whimsical little pieces, and reaction around town has been almost universally favorable.

Key word: Almost. Mows' quick rise to tiny-door prominence brought out the wrath of an unnamed nemesis, who took apparent joy in retracing the artist's steps and dismantling the pieces he left behind. For a time, that vandal was then posting his destruction under the "@urstreetartsux" Instagram handle; that account has since been discontinued. 

Here's one image, in which the guy bragged he'd used a "flat head [screwdriver]" and a hammer to "clean up the rat infestation."

Mows estimates this philistine took apart about a dozen of his door installations.

There might be a breakthrough in the case, as of one week ago. On May 9, a Northeast Minneapolis business recorded surveillance video of a man lingering in its alley. The tape didn't capture a clear image of the man's face, but did get a few details that might help identify him: A white guy with a black shirt, slate grey pants and dark hair, wearing a baseball cap, who stepped around with a noticeably belabored gait. 

When he left, they saw the alley's door decoration was in shambles. 

But Mows isn't about to go down without a fight. Within a couple days, the business owner (who requested anonymity for this story) noticed the door had been restored. 

So, anyone know anyone who looks like this, walks with a limp, and who would've been ambling around northeast up to no good last Tuesday? (Further clues would include: The guy possessing the remnants of numerous very small doors.) 

The business says it turned over its tapes and screenshot images to authorities, though Minneapolis Police Department spokesman Corey Schmidt says the department has no record of evidence being submitted.

Even if a positive ID is established, it's not clear what the legal remedy might be. If one of Mows' doors was left on city-owned property, or on privately owned property belonging to an owner who didn't ask for it or want it, then it technically "wouldn't be legal to put it there" to begin with, Schmidt says.

But if the piece was commissioned, or an unwitting property owner decided after the fact he or she wanted the door to stay, then it "could be considered damage to property," Schmidt says. If such a situation was determined, police would try to assess the piece's value based on construction materials and labor time, among other factors; anything under $1,000 would be a misdemeanor to destroy, above $1,000 a felony.

Schmidt says police would indeed investigate the vandalism of the tiny doors if someone has helpful information. Even Mows himself.

" We would welcome the artist to make a report if he wants to," Schmidt says. "He can stop at any of the five precincts or file the report online."