By Tim Eberly
Tires of all sizes 37 in all fell victim during three separate incidents of vehicular vandalism in Havre since Sept. 23.
In the early morning hours of Sept. 23, the tires of 18 vehicles a total of 34 were punctured with a small knife or similar object, according to Havre police. The damage was concentrated on the 500 and 600 blocks of Second and Third avenues. Most of the vandalized tires were on the vehicle side facing the street, police Capt. Mike Barthel said.
"Common sense is that it would be somebody on foot, probably walking down the street," said Barthel.
Judging by the number of people affected by the crimes, it doesn't appear that a specific group of people were targeted, Barthel said.
"Somebody's mad at the world," Barthel said. "This is definitely just an act of vandalism where the suspect has no enemies. Really, he or she is just out there creating hardships for people in the area. He or she's goal was probably to get as many cars as possible."
No suspects or leads have surfaced from the concentrated vandalism, which Barthel said would likely be treated as a felony. If a criminal mischief crime results in property damage worth more than $1,000, it is treated as a felony, carrying a maximum penalty of $50,000 and 10 years in prison. Damage under $1,000 is classified as a misdemeanor, and carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
"We have had no calls from the public for suspects," said Barthel, who said a reward of up to $1,000 is being offered by Crimestoppers (265-4444) for anonymous tips that lead to solving the crime. "Until we have a lead we can follow up on, this case is just sitting there. Somebody must have seen something."
Two more incidents of car vandalism were reported on Sunday and Monday. On Sunday morning, one week after the Sept. 23 incident, police received a call from an individual in the 600 block of 13th Street West reporting that two tires had been slashed. Barthel said the size of the object used in the Sept. 30 vandalism was similar to that in the earlier vandalism and the damaged tires were on the street side of the vehicle. But in that case, the tires were slashed, not punctured.
One tire on an automobile was slashed during the early evening on Monday in the 400 block of First Avenue.
Because this type of crime is not common in Havre, a link between the three is possible, Barthel said.
"We've seen this before. It's probably been a couple years. It seems like it comes and goes in streaks," he said.
Police requested that the owners of the vandalized vehicles submit cost estimates of the damage. However, only a few of the vehicle owners complied with the request.
"If somebody was ever arrested and subsequently convicted, the judge would need the dollar amount for restitution orders," Barthel said.