California’s Bay Area has recently seen a rash of the most peculiar of crimes. A Smart Car tipping spree has mysteriously taken hold of the city. Car tipping, the urban form of cow tipping, causes much more damage than the latter and it is much more expensive to fix. So far, since Sunday, San Francisco authorities have investigated reports of four such incidents, but with the local media frenzy that is following the phenomenon, police are cautioning that copycat crimes may start popping up as well.
Smart Cars, the German-engineered automobiles that are roughly half of the size of traditional vehicles, were first produced in the late 1990’s. Proponents of the vehicles are attracted to the relative ease with which they can fit in to small spaces, the 36-mile per gallon fuel economy they provide and the relatively low carbon footprint that they require for daily commuting.
That low carbon footprint is primarily the result of the Smart Car’s light weight, 1,500 to 1,800 pound frame, which has been the cause of the automobile’s demise in the recent rash of vandalism. A group of as few as seven people can successfully upend the automobile without the assistance of any machinery. Eyewitnesses early Monday morning have said that they saw eight men, all clad in black hooded sweatshirts, surround the vehicles and subsequently flip the vehicles on their sides, their trunks, their roofs and their hoods. Each victimized auto has suffered broken out windows and heavy body damage as a result of being tipped over.
Despite this being the first domestic Smart Car tipping spree, the destructive practice is nothing new. There have recently been reports of the phenomenon in Canada. Also, a few years ago in Amsterdam instead of tipping the vehicles, delinquents actually grouped up and hurled the vehicles into canals throughout the city.
Back in San Francisco, authorities are still unclear whether or not the vandalism is simply an expensive prank, or rather a statement against the technology industry that has a firm grip on the local economy of the Bay Area. Some residents of the area blame the technology sector for significantly raising the cost of living there in recent years, and some fear that the vehicle tipping may be a form of backlash against it against the technology industry and what it stands for.
Officer Gordon Shyy, spokesman for the San Francisco police, said that it is nearly impossible to identify a motive when not even a single suspect has been identified or placed in custody. He did say that whoever was behind the destruction would face charges of felony vandalism when they are brought to justice.
One victim of the vandalism was Bay Area resident Andrew Smith. Smith was awakened by a loud crashing sound shortly after 1 a.m. Monday morning. He rushed outside to see his spouse’s 2009 automobile lying on its roof. Later Monday he had the vehicle towed to a nearby auto body shop to determine if the automobile could be repaired or if it was a total loss. He had said that if the automobile was a total loss, that would be pretty upsetting to him. After taking some time to think about it, however, Smith said that the Smart Car tipping incident was actually pretty funny. He rationalized that the automobile was just an object after all.
By Jeremy Mika