WASHINGTON – When Gareth Groves brought home his massive new Hummer, he knew his environmentally friendly neighbors disapproved. But he didn't expect what happened next. The sport utility vehicle was parked for five days on the street before two masked men smashed the windows, slashed the tires and scratched into the body: "FOR THE ENVIRON."
"The thought of somebody vandalizing it never crossed my mind," said Gareth Groves, who lives near American University in Northwest Washington. "I've kind of been in shock."
Police said they see small acts of vandalism in the area from time to time, but they have not seen anything so severe, or with such a clear political message, in recent years.
"This seems to be an isolated event," Cmdr. Andy Solberg said.
Investigators said they are searching for the vandals but don't have many leads. Witnesses said they saw two men smash up the seven-foot-tall SUV early Monday and then run off.
Now, as Groves contemplates what to do with the remains of his $38,000 Hummer, he has had to deal with a number of people who have driven by the crime scene and glared at him in smug satisfaction.
"I'd say one in five people who come by have that 'you-got-what-you-deserve' look," said his friend Andy Sexton.
Neighbor Lucille Liem, who owns a Prius hybrid, said that a common sentiment in the neighborhood is that large vehicles such as the Hummer are impractical and a strain on the Earth.
"The neighborhood in general is very concerned with the environment," said Liem, whose Prius gets about 48 miles a gallon compared with the Hummer's 14 miles a gallon. "It's more liberal leaning. It's ridiculous to be driving a Hummer."
Liem quickly added that she does not condone violence.