Participants in Hands Across the Border got a nasty surprise when they returned to the Payson High School parking lot after their trip to Mexico around midnight on Thursday, March 30.
The cars they left behind days before were sinking in their parking spots with slashed tires.
When they called the Payson Police Department, they learned their slashed tires were part of a 17-vehicle rash of vandalism that occurred in the late hours of Thursday night or Friday morning, according to police commander Don Engler.
Tire slashing was reported as far south as the parking lot of ERA Realty at 424 S. Beeline Highway, Engler said. "We believe it started around 11:45 p.m. There was an incident at the Holiday Inn, the high school, one on Longhorn, several along McLane from Overland to Payson Parkway. There was one on West Overland and four on North Whiting.
"I hold 17 incident reports in my hand, but we know there are some that have gone unreported."
Of the vehicle left in the Payson High School parking lot by Hands Across the Border participants, three people had tires slashed, said Myndi Brogdon, one of the chaperones on the Mexico trip.
Spanish teacher Kym Rhodes had three of her tires slashed.
"One of the students' parents had dropped a car off at 10 p.m. for her to use," Brogdon said. "At that time, all the vehicles were fine.
"They got all four of mine and all four of hers.
"At the time the officer came out to talk to us he told us we were the eighth car that night," she said.
Brogdon had her truck towed away. New tires will cost her $600.
"A student, a teacher and a single mom got hit," Brogdon said. "None of us has the money on hand to replace those tires. I'm sure some have insurance, but I just have liability so it doesn't cover this."
The police have no confirmed suspects, but are following several leads, Engler said.
Anyone with information about these crimes, contact Sgt. Todd Bramlet at the Payson Police Department's non-emergency number at (928) 474-5177.
If the suspects are caught they will be charged with criminal damage.