By Zach Howard
(Reuters) - A female inmate at a prison print shop suspected of sneaking an image of a pig into the official Vermont state police crest may never be identified after an internal investigation failed to find the culprit.
Authorities could not find the culprit among several women at the shop who were suspected of having altered, more than a year ago, the officially-sanctioned design in a prank that went viral online after it came to light this month.
An investigation into the case is over and no charges are forthcoming, Penny Carpenter, executive assistant with Vermont's Department of Corrections, said on Thursday.
Vermont's approved state police crest depicts a spotted cow against a background of snowy mountains, but the inmates' version, featured one of the cow's spots shaped like a pig in an apparent reference to the pejorative word for police.
About 30 police cruisers sported 60 of the 16-inch decals for at least a year, until a trooper discovered the porcine-inspired design on his car-door decal on February 1 and reported it.
State police then released a photo of the "inappropriate" sticker and blamed the caper on someone who worked at the print shop in the central Vermont town of Windsor.
Vermont government offices sometimes contract with correctional facilities to employ prisoners to make print products, including the car decals, police said. Female inmates from a women's prison that was located in Windsor worked at the print shop.
It was unclear how many, if any, of the inmate-modified decals still exist on police cars today. Carpenter said all 60 of them have now been destroyed and replacement emblems were made at the same shop in Windsor, at a cost of around $800, she added.
As word of the prank has spread, a local movement to auction off any decals that might be found to raise money for charity sprouted up overnight.
Supporters include Vermont's Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott and Vermont native Cid Sinclair, whose Save the Vermont Pig campaign on Facebook now has more than 1,230 followers.
"I think it is really time to embrace the pig. It is now somewhat cemented in our quirky Vermont lore," Sinclair told Reuters.
(Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)