Vandals leave trail of damage, repair bills

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

When Katie Hartz went out to her car at 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 19, she thought she had to scrape her windshield. When she got closer to her car, she realized the white coloring was not frost at all. It was broken glass.

Hartz’s car was one of seven that were vandalized over the weekend. Three cars had broken windshields and side mirrors were broken off four others. Hartz said someone stood on her car and then kicked in the windshield.

“I was shocked. I didn’t want to believe it,” she said.

After seeing her car, Hartz went back into her house and woke up her roommate to borrow a flashlight. She returned to her vehicle – which was parked in her driveway on Seventh Avenue – all the while hoping it had snowed.

“When I went out, I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

Jeff Miller, administrative captain of the Brookings Police Department, said the vandalism of Hartz’s car was part of a spree that took place in central Brookings on the nights of Oct. 17 and 18. Miller estimated the total damage to all seven cars as more than $2,500. Hartz’s car was independently estimated to have $1,250 worth of damage.

“It’s so frustrating because I don’t even know if they’ll get caught, so I’ll have to pay for it,” said Hartz, who bought her car without help from her parents.

In the past, people have vandalized personal property while walking home drunk from the bars. Miller said drunken people may have played a role in this incident, but nothing is confirmed. These weekend’s incidents may also be related to a string of vandalisms on Hobo Day, but the Brookings Police Department has no leads or suspects at this time.

Nine out of 10 times, Miller said, vandalism victims are innocent and are picked randomly. He said about the only thing students can do to protect their vehicles is to keep their cars in well-lit areas and park them in garages if possible.

“Vandalism makes no sense whatsoever,” Miller said. “People go out and randomly damage property. It’s very frustrating and doesn’t make sense.”

If students want to help curb vandalism incidents, they should report any suspicious activity or give information they have about recent incidents to the police.

“If you see someone doing something, report it right away. ? The only way to solve vandalism is to catch people in the act,” Miller said.

Hartz is also asking students to cooperate with the current investigation.

“If you hear anybody bragging about what they did on Friday and Saturday night, call the Brookings Police Department,” she said. “It will help those of us out who have to pay for the damage.”