Police seek owner of gun in wake of broken car windows

aura Olson

A rash of car vandalism beginning New Year’s weekend has police searching for a pellet gun owner in relation to broken car windows throughout Evanston.

Thirty-four vandalism incidents were reported between Friday and Sunday, said Adam Farbman, a crime analyst for the Evanston Police Department. The majority of the vandalism has been concentrated in West Evanston, between Oakton Street and Lake Street and west of Asbury Avenue, Pickett said. EPD reports show a growing trend of similar incidents. Broken windows were reported on 10 different vehicles in Evanston between Dec. 30 and 31. Nine more incidents were reported between Jan. 3 and 4. Police believe the windows were broken overnight and that the pellets found near the vandalized cars were fired from a moving vehicle, Cmdr. James Pickett said. Owning, selling and using a pellet gun is prohibited by Evanston’s City Code, with fines ranging from $200 to $750. The vandalism has caught the attention of city officials, Pickett said.

“There are a lot of aldermen calling,” Pickett said. “There’s a lot of concern over this.”

People who perform acts of vandalism like these recent incidents are similar to people who key cars or break off hood ornaments, said Dr. Linda Heath, a professor of psychology at Loyola University Chicago.

“It’s just viciousness,” Heath said. “It’s usually either by adolescents doing funny things that just are not funny, or a different group moving into an area.”

They may be targeting particular vehicles, such as nicer cars or those with out-of-town license plates, Heath said.

“Usually they realize it’s not that gratifying and it tends to be outgrown,” she said.

One Jan. 4 incident occurred after the car’s owner told EPD she saw several people standing near her car, Deputy Chief Joseph Bellino said. The man with her yelled at the two unknown men near the car when the men broke the window, Bellino said.

The car’s owner chased the men but no leads were found, he said.

Fifteen cases of car burglaries also were reported during the night between Jan. 4 and 5, according to EPD reports. In several of the cases, only change was missing from the vehicles, the report stated.

“It makes sense that people take change because it can’t be traced back,” Heath said. “If you take a stereo, you have to figure out what then to do with it.”

EPD is asking the public to call the police station with any information they might have about these incidents or information about anyone who owns a pellet gun.

“We definitely need the public’s help on this,” Pickett said.

EPD is continuing to investigate these car vandalism cases.

The Daily’s Beth Murtagh contributed to this report.

Reach Laura Olson at [email protected] and Beth Murtagh at [email protected]