HANFORD — It may have seemed like a rare occurrence when over 20 car windows were smashed in an early-morning vandalism spree a few weeks ago, but officials say this type of incident happens often.
“Every year there’s something,” Hanford Police Lt. Greg Freiner said of vandalism sprees. “At least two to three times a year — and they’re usually related to the same one or two people.”
Officers said the vandalism occurred during a 48-hour period starting Aug. 10 in the northeast and southeast areas of Hanford between the hours of 1 and 3 a.m.
Freiner said the department hasn’t seen any more vandalisms of this kind since. He said this type of vandalism spree will happen all at once and then then nothing will happen again for a long time.
“Some people do something once and they think it’s cool, so they do it again later,” Freiner said, adding he’s seen windshields smashed about five or six times during his career.
Cmdr. Mark Bevens of the Kings County Sheriff’s Office said the department usually deals with vandalism that revolves around another crime, like the stealing of copper wire.
Bevens said the sheriff’s office sees the occasional vehicle vandalisms and spray painters, but nothing like the vandalism spree HPD had to deal with recently.
In December 2016, a similar spree occurred with police reporting over 30 vehicle windows smashed. An investigation into the vandalism led to the arrest of then 18-year-old Alejandro Puga and two juveniles who confessed to the crimes.
Based on evidence obtained at the locations of the recent vehicle vandalisms, officers said they believe the suspects approached the vehicles and used a baseball bat, or similar item, to break the vehicle windows.
According to police, it did not appear anything was removed from the vehicles and these crimes were purely acts of vandalism.
Despite this fact, Freiner still urges people to not leave anything in their cars overnight or even when they leave their cars anywhere for an extended period of time. He said he’s still astonished about what people will leave in their cars.
“People still leave amazingly expensive items in their cars just because they think that when the car is locked, it’s locked,” Freiner said.
Freiner said the repercussions for this type of vandalism then fall on the shoulders of the victims who have to pay for the damage themselves because the culprits are not found, or if the culprits are found, they usually don’t have the money to pay for the damage they caused.
Windshield and window replacements can cost hundreds of dollars, and victims can end up paying even more if any damage was done to the body of the car, Freiner said.
Officers obtained information on a possible suspect vehicle after the incidents, and Freiner said the department is still actively investigating.
If anybody has additional information about who may have been involved in these vandalisms, Freiner said they can anonymously contact the Hanford Police Department at 585-2540.