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Anti-war vandals hit SUVs

Anti-war vandals hit SUVs

by Maria Alicia Gaura, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, April 11, 2003

Santa Cruz police are searching for vandals with an anti-war message who defaced an estimated 65 sport utility vehicles and trucks in a late-night spray-painting blitz.
Slogans including “No Blood for Oil,” “SUVs Suck” and “No War” were spritzed onto 45 new vehicles at the North Bay Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealership on Soquel Avenue, as well as onto 18 or 20 vehicles parked in front of residents’ homes, police said Thursday.
The graffiti also included references to ELF, or Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group that has previously taken credit for torching and vandalizing dozens of SUVs in Pennsylvania and Virginiapresumably to protest the gas-guzzling vehicles’ environmental costs.
Santa Cruz Police Lt. Joe Haebe said the Tuesday-night spree might have been the work of ELF, but no links have been established.
“It may have been ELF, but then, I sometimes get them confused with ALF, the Animal Liberation Front,” Haebe said. “And then there’s Earth First! and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). There’s a lot of cross- pollination between them, and some people here are probably members of two of those groups, or more.”
The ELF press office said the group could not definitively take credit for the vandalism, but noted that the ELF tags found at the scene “can be construed as a claim of responsibility.”
“We have no statement at this time, except to say that this action is consistent with actions that the ELF has taken in the past opposing the war and opposing SUV overconsumption,” according to the group’s unsigned response.
Plumbing contractor David Rosenthal said the vandals hit all three of his family carsa Ford Expedition, a Chevy Suburban and a GMC pickupand the vehicles of perhaps a dozen neighbors. He estimates the vandalism will cost him $1,200 to $1,500 to fix.
“I’ve already gotten my wife’s car cleaned, and the Suburban, because I’m trying to sell it,” Rosenthal saidwork that involved removing the spray paint with solvent, then having the areas buffed out and rewaxed. “But I haven’t had time to get my pickup taken care of, and now I’m driving around with that crap all over my truck.”
Police did not yet have an overall dollar figure for the damage, but estimated that it would cost about $600 to clean each vehicle, depending on the color.
A spokeswoman for North Bay Ford refused to comment on the vandalism, and hung up on a reporter.
“Well, they’re frustrated, and I don’t blame them,” Haebe said, noting that police are busy tracking down leads in the case. “We’ve got some people out there in serious need of adult supervision.”
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