Tires Slashed On 33 Cars, Most At Belleville Church

| October 27, 2010

BELLEVILLE, IL ( — Belleville, Illinois, police are looking for vandals who slashed the tires on more 33 vehicles the last few days. Most of the damage occurred on a church parking lot Sunday night. Shayla Wilson, 19, was taken aback by the news, "That was a big surprise," says Wilson. Her 1994 Oldsmobile was targeted by vandals. "They got all four of my tires. When I realized it, I was like, 'Wow.' The first thing that came to my mind is 'How am I going to pay for this?'"

Wilson's car was parked in the parking lot of Apostolic Church on Salem Avenue at Highway 161. When services ended at about 7:00 pm Sunday, 14 other parishioners found out their vehicles were hit, too. Pastor George Szabolcsi says nothing like this has ever happened at his church before, "One after the other, tires were slashed. We ended up having 15 cars damaged. Six or seven vehicles had all four tires slashed."

Many members, including families with infants, waited patiently in the parking lot for police to arrive to take their report. Some took pictures of their deflated tires as they wondered who would do such a thing. Pastor szabolcsi says he has no idea who would target the church, "We don't know. We believe it is a random act of vandalism."

Wilson was left puzzled by the criminal damage, too, "I was shocked. We kept asking ourselves who would do this? And if it was one person or a group of people."

That's exactly what police are trying to figure out. They've received 33 reports of criminal damage to vehicles within the last several days; 26 Sunday night alone. Captain Don Sax is investigating, "At this point, we don't know what's going on. We're obviously looking for any help we can get. We're offering a $500 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction."

Some parishioners used plugs to make temporary repairs to their tires. Others had their vehicles towed. "We hope the people who did this, find it in their hearts to repent and think about what they've done and hopefully find remorse and come clean and maybe make restitution," reflects Pastor Szabolcsi.

The church has a security program in place. In light of this incident, Pastor Szabolcsi says security cameras will be installed around the building, and the parking lot will be checked more frequently. If you know something about the crimes contact Belleville police.,0,1060247.story

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