Vandals Target Tires on 10 or More Cars

Peter Rucano, a mechanic at Marshall and Sons service station in Montauk, with two of the tires believed to have been slashed late Saturday or early Sunday. T.E. McMorrow

In downtown Montauk early Sunday morning, hours before the St. Patrick’s Day parade began, vandals were out slashing tires on at least 10 vehicles, some of which had two or three tires destroyed.

Jerry Uribe, a driver with Surf Taxi who was on duty that morning, thinks the total number of cars targeted was much higher than the 10 reported. Mr. Uribe said a friend of his who lives on South Emerson Avenue had five vehicles, including his work truck, attacked. One had gravel poured into the gas tank.

There appeared to be about seven cars with at least one tire slashed parked near the Harvest restaurant on South Emory Street, Mr. Uribe said, and another seven or so hit outside the apartments at 21 South Euclid Street, not more than 50 yards from the police substation on South Edison Street.

The vandals “seemed to go in a ‘U,’ ” Mr. Uribe said of the pattern of attack. The damage started on South Euclid, then west to South Emory, south across Main Street to South Emerson, and back east, with most of the damage occurring on South Emerson. It seemed to end, he said, before the Royal Atlantic Hotel complex.

“One woman was so upset. I put a spare on, she took off before the parade,” said Eddie Prado, a partner and head mechanic at Prado and Sons.

East Hampton Town police received their first call Sunday at 7:40 a.m. from a resident at the Tower, the tall Carl Fisher building just above the Plaza. Calls continued to come in throughout the day.

According to Mr. Prado, several people he helped who were in town for the parade and had just one tire flattened, simply put on a spare and drove home, taking the useless tires with them to facilitate insurance claims.

Police are investigating, said Detective Sgt. Greg Schaefer. They have not yet released individual incident reports.

The 10 incidents reported Sunday morning were classified as “criminal mischief.” Some of them, however, appear to have involved multiple cars. Each tire costs upward of $200 to replace, said Peter Rucano, a mechanic at Prado and Sons, on Tuesday.

“I first learned about it when I walked in the door Sunday,” at 8:30 a.m., Mr. Prado said. “Somebody was sitting over there, waiting. I said, ‘What is wrong?’ He said, ‘I got a flat tire.’ Another guy comes in: ‘I’m sure glad you’re open.’ ”

All the tires were slashed through the sidewalls. “Anything on the sidewall of a tire is non-repairable,” said Myrsini Fatsis of B and B Auto on Edgemere Street in Montauk. B and B was closed that day, but she said two men came in looking for tires on Monday.

Mr. Rucano held up a now-useless, almost new tire from an S.U.V. It had a two-inch cut, right through the outer wall. Some cars were put up on blocks in order to deal with multiple flats.

For Mr. Prado, the unexpected surge in business was a sad episode for Montauk. One young victim, he said, had come from UpIsland for the parade. He had one spare tire but needed a second, and had no money. “We found one usable tire in the Dumpster, bald, but it got him home,” said Mr. Prado. “We did our best to help him. It is a terrible thing. Somebody comes out to enjoy the parade, enjoy the day, walk on the beach, spends money in the restaurants, helps out with the parade, and somebody does that to him?”

According to Det. Schaefer, police are visiting Montauk businesses, looking for surveillance cameras that were operating Saturday night, hoping to find an image that could lead them to the vandals. But many local businesses are just emerging from their winter hibernation, and “unfortunately, not all systems are up right now,” the detective said.

One source that police are looking at, said Mr. Uribe, is the cameras installed by Surf Taxi’s owner, Leo Almonte, in each of his cabs. Shot from the vantage point of the rear-view mirror, the images in the cars on the road that night might be helpful. The company has turned those videos over to the police.