Neighbors suspect one man is responsible for string of vandalism, thefts

Slashed tires, scratched cars... tar? And residents fear it could get worse.
Updated: Dec. 16, 2020 at 10:54 PM EST
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COLLEGE HILL, Ohio (FOX19) - A recent string of vandalism and thefts is causing concern in one Cincinnati neighborhood, and the people who live there believe one person could be responsible for all the crimes.

Residents in College Hill say the incidents started in the summer.

“There were tires being slashed. There was tar being thrown on people’s porches,” Jamey Ponte said. “There was cars being scratched with keys.”

Ponte, who is with House of Friends, a social justice organization that has a location in College Hill, says the initial crimes involved Black Lives Matter signs and posters.

“Most of the houses that have been hit or made a police report have probably, at least five times, been hit by this person,” Ponte said. “Our place alone has been hit at least 15 times.”

Months after the vandalism started, Ponte feels the situation has escalated.

“Is it going to come into something else? Is there going to be someone’s porch caught on fire? Is someone’s dog going to get hurt?” Ponte said.

In response to the crimes, Ponte says he installed security cameras, wrote to city council and had a meeting with ministers of nearby churches.

Not long after putting the cameras in place, Ponte says he captured some of the crimes on camera, and to his surprise, he noticed it appeared to be the same man in every clip.

One piece of video footage, Ponte says, appears to show a person spray-painting a fence, removing items from someone’s property and cutting tires. Another video reportedly shows the same man walking up to a porch and meddling with a BLM sign.

Ponte says he does believe the person responsible should face charges. He calls the College Hill community a “great” one and says he is sad to see one person putting a damper on the neighborhood.

He believes a conversation with the man could make a difference.

“Sometimes if you give somebody a voice and just listen to them, it can at least settle something, and maybe the energy can be used in a different way,” Ponte said.

Ponte believes some if not all of the crimes could be considered hate crimes and he hopes they will be treated as such.

Anyone with information can call Cincinnati Police at 513-569-8500 or Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040.

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