A group of South Berkeley residents change the slashed tires on their car which was parked on California Street. Photos: Tracey Taylor

Update, 09.01.11, 8:55pm: As of 8:45 p.m. today, the City of Berkeley Police Department has made no arrests for the vandalism of tires in South Berkeley. The investigation is continuing and officers are pursuing some potentially viable leads. The total documented count of vehicles that had tires damaged is now 74 (61 in  Berkeley, 13 in Oakland).


South Berkeley residents in the area of California, Russell, King and Julia Streets woke up today to a rude shock, as more than 50 cars in the neighborhood had had their tires slashed in the early hours of the morning.

“This is the biggest tire slashing incident any of us can remember,” said Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Sgt Mary Kusmiss, who added that even 25-year police veterans had never seen anything like it.

The area in which tires were slashed

The damage was done with a sharp implement — probably a knife or some type of blade, said Kusmiss, although people have been known to use ice picks too in similar cases.

At around 9:45am today, Diego and Gabriel Gutierrez, who live on California Street, were attempting repairs on three of their cars which were parked in front of their home this morning. They were dealing with a total of seven flat tires in all.

“It must have happened between 4 and 6 am,” said Gabriel, estimating that it might have been after 3am when he was awake, and before the garbage trucks came through the area on its weekly round at around 6am.

Diego Gutierrez, who lives on California Street, had three cars affected by the tire slashing spree, a total of seven flat tires

Diego Gutierrez added that he was contacting his insurance company, but that he didn’t know whether his policy covered vandalism.

Other residents were also changing tires — although many had been obliged to find other means of transport this morning to get to work or take kids to school. The rampage is understood to have extended into Oakland streets too.

Three police cars were on the scene of the crime this morning at 9:30am documenting the extent of the damage and looking for clues

Sgt Kusmiss said the police took a call at around 7:00am this morning reporting the tire slashing. Several police patrol cars were on the scene at around 9:30am documenting the damage.

“We will explore all potential leads,” Sgt Kusmiss said. “At this point we have no idea what the motive is. This is a crime that can happen very quickly under the veil of darkness.”

One of more than 50 cars that had its tires slashed in the early hours of Wednesday August 31 on California Street

Hat-tip: Citizen reporter Sofia Zander.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...