‘Slingshot vandals’ damage 40 TriMet shelters

Officially, they’re not saying how the hooligans smashed the thick, tempered, etched safety glass on TriMet bus shelters – from Gresham west to the Willamette River – but, we’ve got a good idea of what’s happening. Take a look  …

Even though TriMet uses thick, shatter-resistant glass for bus shelter walls, these can still be broken – like this pane, on SE Powell Boulevard.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
The number of TriMet’s damaged bus shelters – mostly along east-west lines, from outer East Portland westward – has steadily risen from just two, on February 15, now to more than 40.

And, it doesn’t look as if vandals will stop smashing those thick, etched panels of safety glass until they’re caught red-handed – or, until someone decides to collect the $1,000 reward, and turns them in.

The first report of a shelter’s glass being broken was on February 15 on westbound SE Powell Boulevard, opposite the Powell Bus Garage, and at NE Halsey Street at NE 172nd Avenue.

Riders depend on bus shelters, especially during inclement weather – but cracked and broken glass is a hazard to riders.

Six more cases of the same kind of vandalism occurred overnight on February 17 – mostly on SE Powell Boulevard, at shelter locations from SE 92nd Avenue west to SE 26th.

Further frustrating transit officials, glass was shot out of  bus stop shelters for a second time in the Lents, Mt. Scott-Arleta, Foster-Powell, and Creston-Kenilworth neighborhoods – mostly along SE Powell Boulevard – just days after it had been replaced.

Officials aren’t yet saying what they believe is being used to vandalize their bus shelter glass – but this close-up photo shows the cracks emanate from a small, single point.

Because, so far, 9-1-1 hasn’t received any “shots fired” calls in connection with these incidents, TriMet Public Information Officer Roberta Altstadt said the agency believes the vandals are using a BB gun, a pellet pistol – or even possibly a powerful slingshot – to do the damage.

“Not only is this vandalism expensive, but also, it’s dangerous to riders and members of the community,” Altstadt told East Portland News. “Broken glass is a big safety concern for us. We try to get out a crew immediately and tape it off, and repair them within 24 hours of the report.”

At bus shelters repeatedly vandalized, TriMet crews replace glass with perforated aluminum panels.

The total estimated cost to repair these shelters currently stands at more than $32,000 Altstadt added. “At some of the shelters that have been repeatedly damaged, we’ve installed perforated aluminum panels, instead of glass.”

TriMet is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest of the vandals, said Altstadt. “We do want to find the people responsible for this, and hold them accountable.”

If you see or hear such vandalism taking place, call 9-1-1. Or, anyone with information is asked to call TriMet at (503) 238-7433.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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