Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spree vandalism

Spree vandalism is the senseless crime of committing a large series of property damage over a short period of time, in a spree. I've never understood the attraction of driving around shooting windows, smashing mailboxes, or slashing tires, but that's the typical M.O. of a vandalism spree.

A Sunday comment by a reader of The Chief's Corner suggested that I blog on this topic, because we had one of these last weekend: eight tire slashings in a small area in south Lincoln. It's probably related to another tire slashing spree in a different part of town that occurred overnight from January 9 to 10. The most common kind of vandalism spree involves the use of BB or pellet guns to shoot out car windows. Windshields and rear windows are typically in the $300 range, with side glass around $250, so the bucks can add up quickly.

The largest sprees are often solved, because vandals can't help but brag about their exploits. Inevitably word seems to make it's way back to one of the victims, or to somebody else who the vandals have annoyed. People who would commit such crimes have a tendency to make plenty of enemies in other aspects of their lives--a decided advantage from an investigative standpoint.

That's how we solved our our biggest single spree in recent years, which occurred on November 11, 2005. Three fine young men popped 144 windows with total damage conservatively estimated by our officers at $37,835. The county attorney filed felonies on this crew, and two of the three actually got six months of three hots and a cot. The third received 30 days in jail and 3 years of probation. The chance of a victim getting restitution from such deadbeats is between slim and none. The biggest tire slashing spree in recent years was overnight 0n December 2, 2003, when tires were slashed on 42 vehicles resulting in $6,715 damage.

As I have often pointed out, there is one rather effective preventative measure. It's not equally available to all, but if it's an option for you, it's worth the effort to park your car in the driveway, rather than on the street. The three car monte in the morning as everyone in the family is preparing to leave at different times can be a hassle, but it works.

Another common kind of vandalism spree is the destruction of mailboxes with a ball bat or club swung from the passenger side of a passing vehicle. Back In November, 2002 a group of three young men were driving around Northeast Lincoln vandalizing mailboxes. The front seat passenger was the designated hitter, using a golf club. During one hit, the shaft of the 3-wood broke off above the hosel . The club head, with a few inches of shaft attached, ricocheted into the open rear passenger window, impaled itself in the head of the back seat passenger and killed him.

Overall in 2007, we suffered 5,258 vandalisms, with a total loss of $1.3 million. Hardly a small-potatoes crime. Motor vehicles were the most common target (click to enlarge):


Anonymous said...

You say and I quote:"The head, with a few inches of shaft attached, ricocheted into the open rear passenger window, impaled itself in the head of the back seat passenger and killed him".

I would assume that the family filed a claim. The listed would be something like, the bat manufacturer. The driver of the car. The person who installed the box. The officers who investigated the crime. And of course LPD for not being at the scene of the death. And as a result of the loss of.....the list goes on.

I had to really let my mind race into a liberal mode of thinking to get this on paper.

Anonymous said...

Vandalism is a head-scratcher. From a risk vs reward standpoint, it makes no sense, because while one risks prosecution (or grave injury/death, if one is in a state like TX that allows property owners to use deadly force to prevent criminal mischief during the nighttime - scroll down to 9.42), there is no tangible reward to offset the risk. It's just a non-starter from a game theory perspective, unless you're seriously delusional.

If you just want thrills as your reward, take a road trip down to KCMO and try not to lose your lunch on some of these rides, instead of destroying some other person's property. There's no risk of arrest, and you'll dig it the most.

Anonymous said...

Chief Casady,

I often hear people compare the north and south side of Lincoln when they discuss the relative safety of the various sections of Lincoln. It seems like most people have the impression that the north side has a higher crime rate. Is there any truth to this?

Thank you for the great posts. I have a new found respect for the LPD and the work they do as a result of reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

How does bicycle theft compare in annual dollar losses to other crime categories? I have a hunch that the monetary loss in that category is higher than any others. Am I right?

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

The people who do this kind of stuff (spree vandalism) have some serious mental/moral problems. They need some serious help and should not be free to roam the streets again until they have shown some evidence of remorse and understanding that what they did was wrong, not to mention paying restitution to those they victimized. Work release should be the closest thing to freedom they see until all their victims have been repaid for their losses. Also, losses include much more than the price of a new tire or windshield or mailbox. Their is generally a good deal of time lost, even missed work, in dealing with these vandalisms. These punks will have to put in several hours at minimum wage (probalby the best job they'll find) to pay what an hour of my time is worth.