In early February about 90 tires were slashed in a Soquel residential area. (File photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)
SOQUEL — Santa Cruz County Sheriff's deputies on Friday arrested two juvenile males suspected of slashing the tires of more than 90 vehicles in a Soquel neighborhood in early February.
The juveniles, 15 and 16, are Soquel residents who live close to the neighborhood where the vandalism took place, Sheriff’s Deputy April Skalland said. They are also accused of throwing a large rock through the windshield of a vehicle traveling down Highway 1.
They were charged with 89 counts of felony vandalism and one count of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly throwing the rock.
Skalland estimated the damage at $50,000, which may have to be paid by the boys’ families, Skalland said.
“Usually when juveniles are arrested for felony vandalism, their parents will be responsible for the bill,” she said.
Both boys were on probation at the time of their arrest, but it was unclear why. Both were in custody in Juvenile Hall.
The 15-year-old is a Soquel High School student, while the 16-year-old was attending a continuation school after being caught with a switchblade knife at the school, Skalland said.
The vandals struck about 90 vehicles early in the morning on Feb. 2 in Soquel and Aptos on Orchard Lane, Fairway Drive, Golf Drive, Monterey Avenue and Entrance Drive.
Witnesses reported seeing two males wearing black hooded sweatshirts emerge from the shrubbery along northbound Highway 1 near the end of Orchard Lane approximately 6:30 a.m. One of the males reportedly threw a large river rock through the windshield of a vehicle traveling northbound about 60 mph. The rock crashed through the windshield and nearly came out the rear window. The driver was uninjured.
When California Highway Patrol officers and Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies and Capitola Police officers searched the area, they found river rocks that had been dislodged from the landscaping of a home.
“It escalated to the point where they were throwing tree branches, rocks and lawn chairs into the road in hopes someone would hit them,” Skalland said.
The arrests came after interviewing several people and looking at video taken from security cameras, Skalland said.
“Through a thorough investigation we found out who they were,” she said.
In a confession letter, the 15-year-old expressed remorse about the crimes, and said that things got out of control.
“I trully (sic) am sorry for being involved with this situation,” the boy wrote. “I didn’t mean or want any of this to happen.”
He went on to write that he did not slash every tire. Rather, he had “only done 4 or 5.”
“(I) got way too carried away that night and honestly I was scared of what was going on and did not want to be their (sic) at all,” he wrote.
The juvenile said the vandalism was not part of the evening’s plans when the night started.
“I promise this was not our plan, expecialy (sic) not mine alone.”
Finally, the boy lamented the affect his arrest has had on his life, that of his family and to the “few” cars he damaged.
Skalland said the arrests could affect the juveniles’ status at their schools.
“Hopefully they can eventually learn their lesson from this,” Skalland said. “Unfortunately many people were hurt by this.”
Sue Towne, who lives in a townhouse on the road, said she had to replace 11 tires on six cars at a cost of $900 and said she hopes the boys’ parents have the money to pay their fines.
“I’m glad,” she said. “I’m not going to hold a grudge but someone should have to pay. These are not high school pranks.”
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