Portland tire slashings: 415 victims, up to $120,000 in damage

PORTLAND, Ore. - A tire-slashing spree centered in N.E. Portland has crossed the line from nuisance to epidemic.

Some 415 victims have had their tires ruined over the past four months.

"My children are scared," said Jen Tate, who is one of the victims. "They keep hearing someone is stabbing things at night.

"I get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and peak outside to see what's going on."

The spree began in May. Police were hoping it was a prank, then hoping it that perhaps it would end once school was back in session.

No such luck.

"For a couple weeks, it did stop," said Sandy Tire and Auto Manager Brett Baumgarte. "Then we saw a huge rash of them again.

"I thought that was quite a few. And then we skipped up to maybe five or 10 a day. It's huge. It's an ungodly amount. It's awful."

Tires are expensive, so the price tag is adding up. Portland police estimate the total damage at somewhere between $60,000 and $120,000.

Some victims have been hit as many as four or five times.

"It's hurting a lot of hard working people who don't have $1,000 bucks to replace their tires," said Jana Lombardi, another victim. "Last time it happened (to her truck), it was $750. These are a lot bigger tires, so it's going to cost a lot more."

The tires have apparently been stabbed with a needle, which makes the crime quick, destructive and difficult to catch.

Milton Hoch has never been a victim, but he's made it his own personal mission to catch whoever is doing it.

He has HD motion cameras that he's moving to different locations every night.

"It's been taking about 3,200 hundred pictures a night just with animals, squirrels, people, cars going by," Hoch said. " We're going to document everything. We're going to catch these people and have good enough evidence to prosecute and put them away.

"I'm not gonna stand around and let people trounce the neighborhood. This is my neighborhood."