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Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler's romantic gesture results in criminal investigation in Arizona

Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler's romantic gesture results in criminal investigation in Arizona
Vanessa Hudgens and boyfriend Austin Butler are being investigated for allegedly defacing a protected Arizona red rock during a recent trip to Sedona. (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images)

Sometimes romantic gestures posted on Instagram are sweet. And sometimes they can result in a criminal investigation, as singer-actress Vanessa Hudgens recently found out.

The "Grease: Live!" star and her boyfriend, Austin Butler, are reportedly being investigated for allegedly defacing Arizona's protected red rocks by carving their names and a heart into one at Coconino National Forest in Sedona, the Associated Press reported.

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Super sweet, right?

The "High School Musical" alum, 27, posted evidence of their Valentine's weekend handiwork on Instagram on Monday, but the photo has since been removed. However, several images from their excursion remained on Hudgens' social media accounts with the hashtag "sedonadreams."

Defacing a geological object at the park qualifies as a Class 2 misdemeanor, according to the U.S. Forest Service. It carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or a $5,000 fine, the AP said.

All archaeological and historic sites in the Coconino National Forest are protected by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, according to the park's etiquette guidelines, and prohibits "removing artifacts, or damaging and defacing of archaeological resources on public lands." Under the law, felony and/or misdemeanor prosecution can be carried out and result in 10 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.

"We have found that when one person carves something, it encourages others to carve," National Forest Service Officer Brady Smith told NBC News. "The incident is currently under investigation, so there is not much I can share specifically until it is completed."

Smith also told the AP that he isn't sure if officers had located the heart that Hudgens photographed within the forest's 250 square-mile Red Rock Ranger District, but authorities were researching social media and trying to contact witnesses about it.

Reps for Hudgens did not immediately respond to The Times' requests for comment.

Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.

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