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September 2, 2014

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Suspects sought in Smart car vandalism

Image

Jeff Chiu / AP

Shelley Gallivan talks on the phone next to a tipped-over Smart car, which belongs to her friend, at Prospect and Oso streets in San Francisco on Monday, April 7, 2014.

Updated Tuesday, April 8, 2014 | 10:33 a.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Authorities in San Francisco on Tuesday were looking for suspects who flipped four Smart cars.

The small two-seat cars were flipped on their sides or roofs in an apparent vandalism spree Monday in two San Francisco neighborhoods.

Police said they didn't know whether the incidents were a prank or another episode in escalating tensions among some residents who blame the tech industry for rising rents and cost of living.

"It's hard to determine a motive without any suspects identified or in custody," said Officer Gordon Shyy, a police spokesman who said the culprits would face felony vandalism charges.

The first car was found flipped on its roof around 1 a.m., and a second was spotted on its side a couple of blocks away about 10 minutes later in the city's Bernal Heights neighborhood, said Shyy.

Police then discovered a third Smart car flipped on its trunk around 1:30 a.m. in the Portola neighborhood. A fourth car was found flipped on its side shortly after 9 a.m., also in Bernal Heights.

The lightweight cars all had shattered windows and some body damage, Shyy said, adding that police were looking for multiple people wearing black hooded sweatshirts who were in the area at the time of the destruction.

As she waited patiently for an insurance adjuster, Shelley Gallivan stood Monday afternoon near the fourth Smart car that was vandalized, a small white compact with a faded "Obama-Biden" bumper sticker. Gallivan was watching the car for her friend, Wendy Orner, who lives in Cincinnati and had a baby nearly two months ago.

The car was left to Orner by her 70-year-old father, who died in January. Gallivan said she found out the car was damaged when a neighbor texted a picture.

Orner said Monday that she still plans to sell the car when she's in San Francisco for her father's memorial in June.

"He was proud that at age 70 he was driving it around. He felt real progressive in it," Orner said. "Although, I don't know if anyone wants to buy a Smart car now after what happened."

Gallivan said she moved the car from in front of her house to a nearby corner — despite her husband's reservations — to allow a bigger car to move into the space.

She hopes the vandalism isn't the start of a new trend.

"It's a bummer. I'm sure hoping it's just a prank and not those who are trying to make a bigger statement in regards to the gentrification in the city," Gallivan said.

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