The Truman State University Department of Public Safety is searching for three individuals, two juveniles and one adult, who vandalized 40 vehicles belonging to Truman State University students in the early hours of Sunday, Sept. 6.
Surveillance cameras, positioned to overlook the parking lot behind Centennial Hall, placed the incident between 1:15-2:45 a.m.. 37 of the vehicles had at least one tire punctured. The other three vehicles were broken into and burglarized.
“We do know that there was one vehicle that had a tool box on it and the tool box was gotten into,” DPS Director Sara Seifert said. “It’s our belief that [the offenders] probably got into the tool box, found something and then went back and started the vandalism of the tires.”
Seifert said DPS is still working to compile statements from students and photos of the damages.
The officer on duty at the time of the incident did not catch the three vandals in the act, Seifert explained, but may have come face-to-face with them shortly afterward.
“About 20 minutes after they leave the camera, our officer did contact three individuals off campus, on Normal Street, and identified all three and those are the three persons of interest we’re looking to talk to now,” Seifert said.
While the total cost of the damages is still undetermined, Seifert said the offenders could be facing felony charges for the vandalism and misdemeanor charges for the stolen items.
Senior Mollie Lynn, one of the students whose vehicle was vandalized, said she considers herself one of the luckier victims.
“I only had one tire slashed,” Lynn said. “Apparently there were cars with up to three tires slashed. The girl next to me had two and you can’t put two spares on, so that was unfortunate. I’m not sure what she did; I guess [she] had to call a tow truck.”
Lynn said she also had some money set aside for car emergencies, but she understands that is not the case for everyone.
Despite feeling more fortunate than most, Lynn expressed that she was still frustrated and confused.
“I was so mad,” Lynn said. “I was like, ‘Why would you do this? What was the point? Was it fulfilling? Was it worth it?’”
Seifert said there have been several factors slowing down the investigation. She explained that the incident happening on a Sunday meant that it took longer to get access to the video surveillance. Additionally, the involvement of juveniles typically slows down the process due to the process of getting the local juvenile office involved.
Nonetheless, Seifert said she hopes to locate and speak to the suspects by early next week and wrap up the investigation from there.
“Our students, their number one priority should be education and I don’t want them worrying too much about everything else,” Seifert said.
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact the Truman Police Department at (660) 665-5621.