Residents of a Simi Valley residential complex who do not strictly conform to the parking regulations of their planned development have been finding their cars vandalized, apparently by a townhouse vigilante with a relish for rules who issues written warnings.
"Everything is supposed to be nice and pretty. Now there's tires being slashed," said Debbie LaScala, 31, whose Ford Fiesta was splattered with an acid-like liquid, as were the cars of her parents and brother.
Simi Valley police say similar acts of vandalism within the Oak Tree townhouse development have been occurring since at least March 7, the date of the earliest reported incident. Some drivers have been victimized more than once.
On Monday, residents said they found warning notes taped to their doors and mailboxes.
According to Simi Valley Police Sgt. Kenneth Tacke, chief of detectives, the notes read:
"If your vehicle is seen parked outside your garage for any unreasonable length of time, your vehicle will be added to the hit list."
LaScala said the note also boasted of an ability to "slash four tires within 25 seconds, day or night, and I will do it."
Tacke, who said similar notes have appeared in some earlier cases, said police have 16 reports of car vandalism involving an estimated $12,000 in damages. LaScala claimed that the damage has been greater, that as many as 80% of the cars in the 95-unit complex have been attacked.
Police are centering their investigation on the development of detached two-story houses, which are virtually identical and connected by small gardens. The development lies off the 5400 block of Cochran Street near the Simi Valley Freeway.
"It seems apparent at this point that the suspect is probably someone who lives in the complex. At least, that's the tone of the notes that have been received," Tacke said.
"There's been some finger-pointing, but until we confirm it one way or the other, I don't want to release any names."
The vandalism came up at the Aug. 31 meeting of the Oak Tree homeowners association and is expected to be raised again at the Oct. 16 meeting. But the development's management company, Dahl Davis Inc. of Westlake Village, has advised the board of directors to leave the matter to police, association manager Janice Needham said.
Under the development's regulations, aimed at preventing cars from being blocked in place, residents are required to park in their two-car garages and avoid using the shared lots reserved mainly for visitors. One vehicle per residence may park in the guest lots, if it is driven off the site on a daily basis. Also, residents may not park outside their garages--most of which open directly onto the courtyard-like, shared parking lots--unless they live in one of the few houses with a driveway.
Oak Tree resident Brian Lipe has so far avoided vandalism and generally parks both his car and his wife's in their garage. But he confessed that he sometimes leaves one of the cars out of the garage when he takes his motorcycle for a spin.
"If everybody cooperates, it's OK," he said, and if someone is blocked in "you can go ask your neighbor to move his car."
Still, Lipe said the vandalism attacks concern him.
"It's scary that someone would decide to take matters like this into their own hands," he said. "It's just not what America's about. I think the guy should go live in a cave."