HOUSTON -- Along the curbsides of a suburban cul de sac sits the evidence of an odd crime wave. Over and over again, homeowners stepped outside early Thursday morning to discover what one law enforcement official called a “rampage” of flat tires.
“All four cars in our driveway, all four tires had been cut,” said Harold Smith, who lives at the end of the cul de sac.
“They stabbed all four tires on every car down here,” said Tony Stewart, who was one of the victims. “About 20 something cars.”
Surveillance video shot by homeowners’ cameras show a vandal calmly strolling up driveways, puncturing the sidewalls of tires. And he doesn’t stop with just one wheel, walking around cars and trucks to punch holes in all four tires.
One neighbor said she saw the vandal driving away, laughing about the damage he wrought.
“You see the video and you say, ‘Why,’” said Mark Herman, assistant chief for Harris Co. Constable’s Office Pct. 4. “Why is this guy going and causing so much turmoil for folks that are just sleeping? They wake up in the morning and their whole day is blown because they can’t drive. It’s hard to wrap your head around it.”
The suspect isn’t offering any clues into his motives, said Herman, who described his behavior as “belligerent” and “uncooperative.” But authorities say they found crack cocaine in one of his pockets when he was arrested.
Authorities found their suspect while investigating some other incidents of punctured tires at a nearby bar. There they found Christopher Schreiber, 37, having a drink. Something aroused their suspicion, because they questioned him, but authorities said they didn’t have any evidence to arrest him.
After he drove away, authorities said, he drove his truck through a field and became stuck. By that time, deputies had seen surveillance video from the nearby homeowners’ cameras. With those images, they said, they connected Schreiber to the vandalism.
All told, Herman said, Schreiber destroyed the tires on at least 35 vehicles, causing at least $25,000 worth of damage.
“Somebody told me when he got caught, they said, ‘Crime doesn’t pay,’” said Debbie Pirkle, one of the vandal’s victims. “And I said, ‘I know, the victims do.’ All of us had to buy tires.”
On the morning after the vandal struck, neighbors said most of the people living in the cul de sac had to stay home from work or school. Wrecker drivers spent much of the day hauling away vehicles, which had to be removed aboard flatbed trucks because all of their tires were flat. Even though they’re insured, some people said they had to pay more than $1,000 in deductibles.
“It’s just scary,” said Susan Stewart, one of the homeowners whose tires were slashed. “It’s scary. It really is.”