ANACORTES, Wash. -- A tire-slashing vandal keeps targeting police cars, but it's taxpayers who are picking up the repair bills.
Investigators say someone is creeping into the fleet lot behind department headquarters and either keying the paint off the vehicles or slashing the sidewalls of the tires.
"Whoever it was was pretty brazen," said Anacortes Police Capt. Lou D'Amelio.
The vandal has struck three times so far, and doesn't seem to care that they could be caught in the act by officers inside the police station.
"Right now we are about 15 or 16 tires total, $5,000 to $6,000 to replace it," D'Amelio said.
The city quickly repaired the damage from the first couple of incidents, but the next day officers found those new replacement tires slashed flat too.
When officers discovered a third incident they had reason to believe the vandal might still be nearby, so they tried to track the suspect with a police dog. The K-9 followed the scent across the street to a middle school, where officers saw fresh bicycle tire tracks in the wet grass. The trail went cold from there.
Detectives went through surveillance video but don't have many leads on a suspect. They say what's frustrating is the $6,000 repair bill ultimately falls to taxpayers, so officers dug into their own pockets to put up a $250 reward. They have also set up an anonymous tip line at (360) 299-1985.
"These cars are here to serve the public," D'Amelio said. "That's really what they're for. And so anybody who damages them just damages our ability to do that job."