Slashed Tires, A Maddeningly Expensive Crime

Georgetown, KY – You wake up, get prepared for work, and head out to your car to start the day. You’re nearly elated by the changeover of warm weather or that you managed to leave the house without having to truck a car-full of kids to school until you notice something odd. As you near the vehicle, the maddening realization hits you: Someone has slashed your tires.

That was the case for more than 50 victims living in the Indian Acres neighborhood in Georgetown, Kentucky over the weekend, as reported by WKYT. Outraged vehicle owners were stuck having to make alternative arrangements as many of them were forced to get their cars towed.

The harsh discovery and expense was unsettling. The cost of tires has increased with everything else, so to replace a full set can run anywhere from $400 to $1000 depending on the make and model of the vehicle and brand of tires. Specialty tires require being ordered. Low-balling the estimate of damage to 50 cars at $400 a pop adds up to $20,000.

Owners typically do not use their insurance to cover tire damage as the expense to replace them is almost equal to the out-of-pocket deductible cost to the victim.

The three teenagers responsible were arrested and charged with roughly 50 counts of criminal mischief and are expected to appear in court on Tuesday, April 2, 2013.

One resident, Jeremiah Brown, expressed his disappointment and hopes the teenagers learn their lesson. “I can’t believe somebody would take the time out of their day to just wreak havoc on people that have done nothing to them.”

Per the criminal property damage laws, Kentucky statute 512.020 first-degree criminal mischief is defined as a person wantonly defacing, destroying or damaging property – resulting in the pecuniary loss of $1,000 or more, and is a class D felony. Second-degree (512.030) is the loss of $500 of more, and is a class A misdemeanor. Third-degree (512.040) is essentially tampering with property or knowingly endangering the property of another, which is a class B misdemeanor.

Depending upon the degree of criminal mischief, the teenagers could face per count: first-degree is one to five years in state prison with $10,000 in fines; second-degree is up to 12 months in jail with $500 in fines; third-degree has a maximum of 90 days in jail and a fine of $250.

Earlier this month across the country in Soquel, California, two teenagers were arrested for indiscriminately slashing the tires on nearly 90 cars in February. The costs of the widespread vandalism exceeded $50,000.

Infuriated affected owners made statements to the media arguing, “Who has an extra $1,000 to spend on tires?” In one incident, reported in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, a resident with six cars in their household had to shell out the difference of over $800 after insurance covered some of the tire damage.

Police suspected the two were also responsible for hurling a large rock from an overpass onto HWY 1. It crashed through the windshield and nearly hit the driver.

The two mischievous teens, one of whom was already on probation for taking a switchblade to school, claimed to be under the influence of drugs. The 15- and 16-year-old were made to scribe apology letters after they confessed. As evidence, the police had several video surveillance images and witness statements.

They face 89 felony counts of vandalism and an assault with a deadly weapon charge.

Victims in the California case feel the parents should also be held accountable for the damages, and felt the penalties against the teenagers should have been harsher considering the act of throwing the rock off the overpass could have seriously injured or killed someone.

According to a KSBW interview with April Skalland of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, in cases where the criminals are juveniles facing felony vandalism, parents are often stuck having to pay the costs.

Teenagers need to realize these are not just simple petty crimes without cost or consequences. They should not rationalize the damages will be covered by insurance and that they will not have to deal with the repercussions if caught. The costs, both financial and emotional, are high for the victims.

Have you ever been the victim of property crime?

[Image via Shutterstock]