A handful of Vienna residents, in the southwest corner of town, didn’t make it to work last Tuesday morning, Aug. 20.
Over the course of Monday night and Tuesday morning, 40 cars had their tires slashed. A total of 102 tires were punctured. Two mailboxes were damaged, as well. Most of the vandalism took place on four streets: Cottage Street, Yeonas Drive, Patrick Street and Walker Street. There were also incidents on Ware, Drake and Casmar Streets, and Ross Drive.
Police have no information regarding the identity of the vandals, nor do they know how many people were involved in the crime.
"You don’t know who it is until you catch them in the act," said Robert Carlisle, chief of the Vienna Police Department. "My guess is that it would be more than one person. But, it may just be one."
THE INCIDENT CAME two months after a similar incident, in June, when the tires of multiple cars were slashed. The June slashing, which occurred in the same southwest neighborhood as last week’s incident, involved a smaller number of cars.
After the June incident, police increased patrols in the neighborhood, paying for overtime and using bicycle-mounted officers, Carlisle said. Their primary goal was to catch the perpetrators, but the increased police presence was also meant to scare off any would-be vandals. The patrols had been scaled back by the time the latest incident occurred.
"If an officer is driving down the street, and is three minutes ahead or behind, he’s not going to catch them," Carlisle said. "It happens so quick."
Lorraine Goeller, who lives in the neighborhood, said vandals have hit her family three times over the course of the summer. The first tire slashing came in May, the next in June and the third last week. During the most recent incident, tires on three of her family’s four cars were slashed. She is considering installing security cameras outside the house.
"It makes me pretty sick," Goeller said.
She said it seems as though the perpetrators are vandalizing the same cars over and over. And she said she is sure they will be back.
"The police, I think they need to do a little more," Goeller said.
Carlisle said police will once again increase patrol frequency in the neighborhood, and he asked residents to keep their eyes open for any suspicious people. There may be reward money available for information leading to the arrest of the vandals. Police have also dusted some of the vandalized cars for fingerprints, and are waiting for the results of the fingerprinting.
CARLISLE SPOKE to several residents who were frustrated by the vandalism. The police chief said he understood their frustration. One mother recently bought new tires for her daughter’s car, only to have those tires flattened.
"It’s a senseless crime," Carlisle said. "There were no thefts, nothing taken. The sheer damage to property is devastating to the victims. The amount of money it costs to replace tires, in most cases, just exceeds the insurance deductible. So [car owners] have to pay the whole deductible, which is basically the same as paying for new tires."
Norma Jean Curry had two tires popped on her GMC Yukon. Two tires on her husband’s car, a Ford truck, were also popped. It cost $750 to replace the tires. Curry said she is willing to press charges, to invoke a civil suit, if the perpetrators are caught.
"They need to be taught a lesson," Curry said. "With the way the world is today, you wonder why someone would sit around and think about doing something like this."
Carlisle would not guess the age of the perpetrators. He also said he didn’t notice a consistent rise in vandalism during the summer months.
"Some people say there is a pattern, that when school ends you see more [vandalism] and that when school starts back up it goes down," Carlisle said. "I don’t know that I see a pattern."