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38 vehicles damaged by vandals

No one saw anything _ until it was too late.

Ryan Andrews found the vandalism after he got up Sunday morning. Someone with a sharp object gouged the paint on his 1991 Nissan 300ZX parked outside his Largo apartment.

"You could tell they did it with a knife," said Andrews, 30. "All four sides got it. It's a line that just goes all the way around the car. The whole car needs to be repainted, so it'll cost $1,000 at least."

Andrews wasn't alone. His sports car was one of nearly 40 damaged by vandals during the weekend at Bel Shores Apartments at 500 S Belcher Road and adjacent Belle Oak Villas.

Largo police Capt. Joe Gillette said the damage was first reported Sunday morning, but more reports were trickling in Tuesday. At last count, 38 cars were damaged at the two complexes.

In addition, sprinkler heads were ripped out at Belle Oak Villas, where a 2-foot-high concrete ashtray and its contents were dumped into the pool. Gillette said the damage happened between 1 and 7 a.m. Sunday.

Owners reported their cars were "keyed," deeply scratched with something pointed such as a key. In some cases, cars' convertible roofs were slashed.

"They're all vandalism reports, no auto burglaries," Gillette said. "We don't have an estimate on each one, but you can put the damage in the tens of thousands of dollars."

Detectives were investigating, but had no suspects. Gillette said there had been scattered reports of vandalism before at the two complexes, but nothing of such magnitude.

"Nobody heard anything; nobody saw anything," said Mike LaCava, president of the Belle Oak Villas Homeowners Association. "They really did a job. In some places, they hit cars on both sides of the street."

The complex of 253 villas has a crime-watch program, and the only entrance and exit is on Belcher Road.

"Maybe we should watch the entrance, but people aren't up at 2 and 3 in the morning," LaCava said. "We really haven't had problems in quite a while."

Bill and Lorraine Jacobsen have lived on Rodeo Drive in the complex for 11 years. After the trouble during the weekend, they are more conscious about security.

The hood and trunk of their 1993 Nissan Altima was damaged Sunday. Repairs will cost $800. A neighbor's convertible roof was cut, and a new car down the road was scratched.

"We've just been so upset," Mrs. Jacobsen said. "They even cut a smiley face on one of the cars. It's sickening."