LOCK HAVEN - City police have been kept busy in recent weeks, investigating a vandalism spree in the areas of Water and East Bald Eagle streets - and officers are asking citizens to help in stopping the damage.
In many cases, the damage is being caused in the wee hours of the night, when most honest citizens are sleeping.
The acts are apparently random, and no individual or development is being targeted.
In most cases, windshields, side windows are targeted with blunt objects, and the paint surfaces are subjected to gouging.
City police are asking area residents in the area in question to report any suspicious activity involving parked cars or trucks.
Anyone with information regarding a suspect or suspects, or who wishes to report a similar incident can call the Lock Haven Police Department via the Clinton County Communications Center, at 748-2936.
Residents can also call the Clinton County District Attorney's Crime Tip Hotline: (570) 893-4123.
According to District Attorney Michael Salisbury, young people might believe the crime a minor one, but legal consequences can be fairly severe for defendants found culpable for this crime.
"It bumps up pretty quickly from a summary violation to a misdemeanor depending on the estimated amount of damage," Salisbury said.
The most recent cases occurred late Monday or early Tuesday, police said.
Police said an red Chevrolet Cobalt was vandalized at 115 W. Water St. when somebody threw a object into the windshield.
During the same time, somebody threw objects and damaged two vehicles at 207 E. Main St., police said.
Unfortunately, there are few solutions to this problem, unless police obtain a description of the people involved or they are caught in the act, so residents are being asked to be vigilant and aware, especially at night.
The only techniques listed on websites when it comes to such vandalism, is to catch the culprits red-handed or have video proof. Motion activated lights attached to homes and focused on backyard parking areas, and car alarm systems are also mentioned. Surveillance cameras appear to be a cost-prohibitive option.
The best bet, according to experts, is to rely on good neighbors to keep an eye on property when others are away on business or shopping. Law enforcement experts say communications among citizens and with police are key to resolving these issues.
While most of these cases involve damage but not theft, it's also a good idea to check your vehicle for valuables before you park it for the night, police said.
Crimestoppers offers the following suggestions for car crime prevention:
- Lock the doors and close the windows when you leave your car, for however long you are leaving it.
- When parking at home, always use your garage if you have one and lock both your vehicle and your garage. If you don't have a garage, try to park in a well-lit, open place.
- Don't leave anything on display. Even an old coat or plastic bag can be a tempting target for a thief.
- Remove the stereo if you can. Don't keep valuables or important documents in the glove box. Leave the glove box open to show there's nothing inside.
- Tuck in wing mirrors and put the aerial down to discourage vandals.
- Never store your car's documents in the car.
- Mark all equipment, e.g. car stereo, with your car registration number