Vandalism Spree Angers, Unifies Community

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Some residents of Northwest Pasadena have become galvanized to "get to the bottom" of a recent wave of vandalism that targeted at least 40 homes and vehicles in their community.

Over a period of three nights--July 14, 15 and 16--several cars and trucks parked in an upper-middle-class enclave on the east bank of the Arroyo Seco had their tires punctured, antennas and taillights broken, and racial epithets scratched in the paint, residents said.

In addition, at least three people reported that their pets were poisoned--although the animals all survived. Mailboxes were ripped from their foundations in the front yards of several homes.

Another resident reported that someone placed large boulders on a street in the neighborhood.

"If you would have been coming around the corner and been looking anywhere except the road, you would have wrecked your car," said Rachel Brown, who said tires on her car were punctured and her dog was poisoned in her back yard.

The vandalism occurred along La Canada Verdugo Road, Chevron Court and Vista Laguna Terrace, a quiet, racially integrated neighborhood where nothing like this has ever happened before, residents said.

"It's the feeling of being outraged and being violated," said Warren Telting, who had all four tires on his car punctured. "It's really got the community unified. We're going to have to be increasingly vigilant" to assure it will not happen again.

Last weekend, Brown said, some residents set up video cameras in their homes to monitor the streets late at night and during the early morning hours. Others took turns staying up and watching for signs of trouble. Their efforts, however, proved fruitless.

Pasadena Police Sgt. Alex Uribe said Thursday that the incidents involving 40 to 50 homes and vehicles were under investigation and no arrests had been made.

In the meantime, residents are organizing a potluck supper to further bring the community together. They are also planning to reinvigorate a neighborhood-watch program that has faltered because of lack of interest.

"It's a massive let's-come-together-and-put-it-to-a-stop campaign," Brown said.

Resident Shirley Telting said, "We're trying to get organized and get to the bottom of what's going on."

Some residents--searching for a motive for the apparently senseless attacks--have speculated that they are tied to the neighborhood's vocal opposition to a proposal to build a gas station-convenience store nearby.

All of the residents whose property was attacked reported they had signed petitions--including their names and addresses--opposing Arco's plan to build an AM-PM Mini Market on the southeast corner of Woodbury Road and Arroyo Boulevard.

The proposal brought a crowd to last week's meeting of the Altadena Town Council, which voted 11-0 to urge county and state officials to deny applications to build the market and to sell alcoholic beverages there.

The state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has received a petition with 157 signatures against granting a license to the proposed facility.

Although they have no concrete evidence, many area residents believe that the vandalism is connected to the petitions, Brown and the Teltings said.

"I can't say that the petition was directly related to it, but I personally think it might be," Brown said. "It's very weird stuff."

"I am floored that someone would even think that Arco would do something like this," said Annie Reutinger, a company spokeswoman. "That's outrageous. If there are vandals, there are vandals. That's not Arco.

"We're trying to work with the community," she added. "We're not going to do anything unlawful."

Not every resident is convinced that the attacks were sparked by the opposition to the development.

"People keep claiming this big Arco connection," said Henry Castro, who reported that two tires on his car were punctured. "I think it was just kids cruising the neighborhood. At least I hope so. If this is adults, it's pretty sad."

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