Vandalism spree leaves costly mess

Nancy Schwarting was surprised to find the driver's side window of her truck broken out as it sat parked along the 1300 block of Pennsylvania Street. Schwarting discovered the damage Monday morning, and she wasn't alone. Others throughout Lawrence reported vandalism and graffiti after the weekend, and police are investigating whether any of the crimes are related.

After Nancy Schwarting walked out of her East Lawrence home Monday morning, she searched through her truck for a brick.

The way her driver’s side window was broken out, she thought someone must have thrown one through it.

“It was a kind of nasty deal,” she said.

It was a nasty deal for many in East Lawrence and elsewhere in town Sunday night and Monday, when nearly 30 incidents of criminal damage left cars without windows and downtown buildings littered with graffiti, causing thousands of dollars in damage.

In East Lawrence alone, 13 residents reported about $2,500 in damage to car windows and windshields Sunday night and Monday morning. The vandals struck mostly between 11th and 14th streets from Pennsylvania to New Jersey streets, police reported.

“I would think this indicates, the time and the location, that we will be investigating that these are related,” said Kim Murphree, a Lawrence Police spokeswoman.

But Murphree and neighbors in the area said the search for bricks might be fruitless. It appeared pellets may have been shot through many of the windshields.

“That’s part of the investigation,” Murphree said. “Some of the damage indicates it could have been a pellet, but we haven’t found a weapon.”

Other cars across Lawrence suffered damage this weekend, too. Police had reports that 11 cars in the Prairie Park area – between 25th and 28th streets along Maverick Lane and Harper Street – lost windows, and vandals struck three vehicles in the Oread Neighborhood.

Two other incidents in other parts of town also were reported.

The total bill for the weekend vandalism spree: $6,500.

Around the same time, four buildings in the 800 block of Massachusetts Street had graffiti sprayed on their exterior walls. It’s unclear whether those incidents were related, but the spray paint added hundreds of dollars to the weekend’s vandalism total.

Police haven’t located a suspect, Murphree said.

In East Lawrence, many of the vehicles hit were older cars – typically not fully insured – belonging to residents without a lot of cash to get them fixed, Schwarting said.

“It was kind of a double negative for those of us who got hit,” she said.

Sabrina Channel, who lives along New Jersey Street, said her 1992 Chevrolet Lumina was no exception. She only carries liability insurance, so she had to pay the $200 repair bill out of her pocket.

“Well, I could get mad about it, but it’s really kind of pointless,” Channel said. “I’m just happy I was able to get it fixed.”