Somebody has been shooting out the windows of buses and limousines with a pellet gun, and the executives of one company hit hardest has a message for those responsible: You’re going to get caught, and when you are, you’ll do time.
Alan Waxler, CEO of the the destination management and services company that bears his name, said he thought it all started out as a prank.
But 30 shot-out windows, $50,000 in repairs and thousands of dollars more in expenses later, the joke isn’t funny. Waxler said he will do everything he can to punish those responsible for what is now a felony offense.
Waxler has filed incident reports with the Metropolitan Police Department and has documented evidence from every occurrence.
It started in January, with sporadic occurrences through the winter. Sometimes, the company would get hit twice in a week.
Other companies also have been hit. On Demand Sedan &Limousine and Presidential Limousine, a subsidiary of the Bell Transportation Group, have reported incidents.
“Our biggest concern is that we don’t want anybody to get hurt,” Waxler said.
The vandalism typically occurs between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., at Waxler’s lot at Valley View Boulevard and Tompkins Avenue. Most of the damage has been done to buses, but a few limousines also have been hit.
Alan Mintz, president of AWG Ambassador, took a proactive approach to finding who was responsible. Extra security and private investigators were hired at an expense of about $1,000 a week. A $6,000 security camera system was installed. A set of portable light standards was put up to illuminate the yard.
“We had the place lit up like a stadium,” Waxler said.
Mintz also had some signs that read, “Smile ... This time we got you.” He’s also posted a $5,000 reward to be given to anyone who provides information leading to a conviction.
At Metro’s suggestion, executives pored through employment records looking for the names of former employees who might have been disgruntled enough to avenge a perceived wrong. It’s a tough assignment considering the company employs 390 drivers and 500 employees have come and gone at the company over the past five years.
“What we’re hoping is that people in the neighborhood are aware and that they’re on the lookout,” Waxler said. “And Metro has done a great job of increasing patrols in the area. I know it can’t be a high priority for them.”
Waxler’s biggest frustration is that the incidents keep occurring — and they could be getting worse. The window of Waxler’s second-story office was hit. Some of the more recent incidents have been with a higher-caliber weapon.
The buses are big targets and on most of them the interiors aren’t visible from the outside, meaning shooters could hurt someone they can’t see.
Waxler and Mintz say nobody has been on the buses 95 percent of the times they have been hit. They don’t like to talk about the other 5 percent.
But Presidential Limousine Vice President J.J. Bell said one of his vehicles was hit while on a local highway.
“It happened about a month ago,” Bell said. “We’ve had three instances of windows being shot, so it isn’t anything like Alan’s situation. We reported it to Metro and had it repaired.”
Waxler doesn’t have any other theories about who’s responsible.
Are they random acts? Is the company being targeted? Is one person doing all the damage? Is it a gang initiation ritual?
Waxler doesn’t know. He just wants it to stop before somebody gets hurt.
Contact Richard N. Velotta at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta.