Tire slashers damage 18 vehicles in western Arundel Vandals hit dozens more in two other counties

January 13, 1998|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

At least 18 west county residents and dozens more along the eastern borders of Howard and Prince George's counties woke up last weekend to find their car tires slashed. County police say it is part of the area's latest round of easy-to-commit, hard-to-solve crimes.

Two years ago, residents near Laurel, Maryland City and Severn were victimized by vandals who shot BB-gun pellets into their cars. Two teen-agers were caught, but only after a resident spotted them and wrote down their license plate number, police said.

Anne Arundel police, who are working with officers in Prince George's and will soon be contacting those in Howard, are hoping for a similar break.

"If we're going to get a break in this case, it's going to come from citizens in the community," said Detective Perry Sauers, who is heading the investigation in Anne Arundel.

Part of the difficulty of solving property crimes comes from their fleeting nature, he said. Vandals or pranksters who target neighborhood cars or houses will typically tire of the activity after a week and disappear. Police have only until then to find them.

"What we can do is run frequent checks, and if the pattern continues, we can conduct stakeouts in those communities," Sauers said. " But I don't hold much hope."

Detectives in Prince George's think they may have stumbled upon one small lead after a resident spotted a dark minivan circling the area before the slashings, police said. But the resident was unable to see the vehicle's tags.

Most of the damaged cars had the two driver-side tires slashed. Sauers said that could support the minivan theory because most vans are equipped with sliding doors that a culprit could easily hang out of, slashing tires as the van moved down the block.

Ron Humphries, who lives in Laurel, came outside Saturday to find his right-side tires slashed along with those of five of his neighbors. "It's really frustrating because there's no way anybody can be caught," Humphries said, "and there's not much you can do about it."

Pub Date: 1/13/98

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