Archive for Thursday, March 25, 2004

Car wash repeatedly vandalized

Owner forced to install cameras

March 25, 2004

It's apparent to Doug Wasson that someone wants to make it harder for him to run his business, and he has a large bowl full of wires to prove it.

Since January, Wasson Car Wash, 503 Ames St., has been vandalized several times. Each time, vandals have targeted the automatic car wash stall during the overnight hours, cutting wires in the automatic wash system, poking holes in the air hose and even cutting the cord to the recently installed security camera.

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"It's bothered me a lot," Wasson, owner of the car wash, said. "What's disconcerting to me is that we're just a car wash here. We don't have any enemies."

Four reports have been filed with the Baldwin City Police Department, the most recent on March 10.

Wasson said he's been vandalized at least six times. He said it began the first week of January when wires that operate the automatic car wash were cut, disabling the system. He said the wires hang several feet above the ground, and are high enough they can't be reached from the bed of a truck, but instead require a ladder to reach them.

A few days after the first vandalism incident, the lines were cut again, he said, this time into several sections.

He said he has replaced the lines several times, only to have them cut again.

During one of the instances, he said, the vandals poked a hole in an air hose, causing the compressor to run nonstop and eventually burn up.

The damage being caused to the car wash, he said, can't be easily repaired, and instead must be replaced with new parts.

"The person that's doing this knows something about car washes," he said.

To try to put a stop to the vandalism, Wasson installed a security camera in the automatic bay. But, he said, it wasn't long before the vandals cut its cord, rendering the camera useless.

Wasson, whose large bowl of collected damaged lines and parts continues to grow, said he has spent more than $4,000 in repairs because of the vandalism.

"It's tough enough to make anything, let alone take these kind of losses," he said. "It's costly.

"It's also disconcerting because I've never had any theft or anything like that here at all," he said. "I've never even had any attempted theft."

He said he has been working with the police, but will also soon be installing more security cameras.

"We'll be putting surveillance in here with 24-hour coverage. We'll be putting up more cameras, and they won't easily be seen," he said. "We will catch this individual if he comes back."

Wasson is also hoping for help from the Baldwin community.

"If you see anyone doing anything in there at night, call the police," he said. "I'm prepared to reward anyone for information."

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