Seek Surveillance Tapes

An East Hampton Town police patrol car parked overnight at 52 South Embassy Road in Montauk, the hamlet’s police substation, was reportedly one of many vehicles — 27 at last count — whose tires were slashed by vandals on the night of March 22, hours before the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Several cars parked within 50 yards of the station were also among those targeted.

Detectives are canvassing downtown Montauk bars, businesses, and other enterprises in a hunt for video surveillance tapes that might lead to identification of the vandals, but they have not bothered to inquire at the  substation. While both the East Hampton Village and Sag Harbor Village police departments have exterior surveillance cameras at their buildings, the town force has none.

The tires were punctured through their sidewalls by either knives or scissors, police said. Once a tire’s sidewall is breached, it is no longer usable.

The destruction took place over several miles, with cars attacked as far north of downtown as the train station and as far east as the Ditch Plain beach parking lot, but the bulk of it occurred in the neighborhoods adjacent to the substation, on South Euclid Avenue and along South Emerson Avenue by the beach. The incident at Ditch Plain, the first to be reported, happened between 6 and 6:30 p.m.

Many of the cars attacked had at least two tires slashed and were scratched as well. Some people found gravel in their gas tanks. At the Sands Motel, 30 window screens were slashed, apparently by the same vandals. The cars targeted varied from late models, including a 2014 Kia Optima parked at the Solé East Beach motel on South Emerson, to a 1994 Volvo sedan parked nearby at the Ocean End resort.

Altogether, police estimated, there was upward of $10,000 in damages.

Those responsible would face multiple felony charges if caught. Criminal mischief rises to the felony level when the cost of the destruction is over $250, according to state law. The cost of replacing a single tire starts at around $150.

Chief Michael D. Sarlo of the town police, speaking of the search for videotapes, said this week in an email that “pole cameras in certain areas could be a deterrent and assist us with cases such as the recent tire-slashings in Montauk.” However, he added, money for the technology is not in the current town budget.

“If the chief made a recommendation, the board would certainly look at it,” Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said Tuesday morning.

 Every summer week, there are several arrests in the four-square-block area around the Montauk police station, from nuisance crimes like public urination to more serious offenses like possession of narcotics or assault.