Blake Blythe, owner of Blake Ford Mercury, surveys the damage to one of the damaged Senior Services vans on his lot. -- Nicholas Langhorne | Tidewater News

Archived Story

Vehicles vandalized

Published 9:40am Wednesday, November 24, 2010



FRANKLIN—Vandals on Saturday night hit two Franklin car lots, breaking windows out of about 20 vehicles, including some that are used for transporting elderly residents.

Vandals damaged vehicles at Blake Ford Mercury on Armory Drive and Cars & Credit on College Drive. Eight of the damaged vehicles belong to Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, which transports elderly and handicapped residents.

“What these people did was wrong,” said John Skirven, chief executive officer of Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia. “It’s very disappointing, particularly because so many people depend on this.”

The vandals shattered windshields and windows on all eight of the vehicles, Skirven said. In two wheelchair-accessible vans, the criminals discharged fire extinguishers throughout the vans’ interiors.

The vehicles are used for I-Ride shuttle services in Franklin, Southampton and Courtland, and to transport seniors to senior centers in Zuni, Franklin and Suffolk, deliver frozen meals to seniors in rural areas, transport seniors in Franklin to the Western Tidewater Free Clinic in Suffolk and provide seniors transportation to their medical appointments.

“Our big issue is the medical transportation where we carry people to the doctors,” Skirven said. “That really is the biggest hit.”

Repairs to the wheelchair-accessible vans could take up to two to three weeks because of the heavy damage from the fire extinguishers, Skirven said. The organization is seeking volunteers who will provide rides for seniors to get to their appointments.

“If people begin to volunteer, that would really be a great help,” Skirven said. “If people would help right now, we could definitely use it.”

Senior Services was able to restore I-Ride service in Franklin on Monday, using vans redistributed from eastern Hampton Roads. The I-Ride takes people on an eight-mile loop in Franklin, allowing about 5,000 riders a year to go shopping, work or visit the doctor.

I-Ride service for Courtland and Southampton Meadows will be operating as normal next week. For wheelchair accessibility, residents should call the Franklin office to arrange a ride.

Blake Blythe, who owns Blake Ford Mercury, said he’s let Senior Services use his lot for years.

“We let them use our facility to park their vehicles and we control the keys and we work on the vehicles when they need to be repaired,” he said. “We do it as a courtesy.”

Blythe said there have been isolated vandalism incidents on the lot, but nothing quite like this.

“Here lately, the only vandalism we’ve had is people stealing the state inspection stickers where they break the glass and steal the inspection sticker itself,” he said. “This was just old downright vandalism to destroy something.”

None of the dealership’s new vehicles were affected, but about 12 vehicles were damaged, including customers’ vehicles, used vehicles and the Senior Services vehicles. An employee at Cars & Credit said eight vehicles on the back and side of the lot had windows broken out.

As for Senior Services, Skirven said repair work would be completed locally.

“Senior Services is committed to Franklin,” he said.

People wishing to volunteer should call 461-9481 and ask for Latasha, the transit volunteer scheduler, Skirven said. Senior Services volunteers are screened carefully, he added.

Monetary donations to help the organization with insurance deductible payments will also be accepted. To donate, call 461-9481 and ask for Mary Howell.

Skirven said the vandals “ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

“We have had vandalism on individual vehicles in different parts of the region in the past,” he said. “This is the first time ever in Franklin. There’s just no good reason for it.”

  • SSEAL42

    My daughters car has had the windshield busted out two times. They even know who did it. The second time they stole a backpack of hers and she saw one of the youths wearing it in front of the house. When she called the police all they did was take the backpack from the boy and told my daughter they couldn’t arrest him because they couldn’t PROVE he did it. This same youth broke into his neighbors house and stole some video games and a pair of shoes. The police found him wearing the boys shoes and all they did was take them from him and return them to the neighbors. Maybe I’m crazy but I beleive that the law is if you are found in possession of stolen property you are to be arrested…it’s up to the judge to decide if you are guilty or not..NOT THE POLICEMAN! South High Street has become a gang hangout. The police have been called more times than I can count. Just the other day this same group of thugs climbed on to their roof and shot out the neighbors windows with a pellet gun. Wake up Franklin Police and start arresting someone! We’ve replaced 3 windshields already! Maybe if they start breaking out police car windshiels and stealing their items someone will make an arrest

    Suggest Removal

  • Cat

    You can bet these young adults are into more than just vandalizing cars. The rash of break-ins in the community points a direct finger of this type of behavior also. Are the police in touch with the community to get an inside track?

    Suggest Removal

  • goodgirl

    just another example of kids probably not getting the discipline or guidance they need. I really hope they are caught.

    Suggest Removal

  • Andrijana

    Do they have any cameras instaled at the property where cars were parked? Security cameras inside of building, on the premises of parking or surounding areas? Is there any traffic camera that was under right angle to catch any of the “fun” that bunch had at the parking? Did they come on the foot or by the car – it is easy to see by aproximate time the demage was done. Faces or licence plates # when they were passing trafic/Walgreen or other cameras after/before what they did?

    Suggest Removal

  • kkslider

    This is truly sickening.

    Suggest Removal

  • FromHere

    It’s a shame for anyone to be targeted by low-life trash, but our Senior Citizens? Bet whoever did this was laughing the whole time just thinking how much fun it was and how clever they are. Scum of the earth. That’s what they are.

    Suggest Removal

  • JustBlaze135

    Hopefully this will come right back to them, and ding them upside the head! Anyone having information on this crime should report it. Take that crap down the road!!!

    Suggest Removal

  • momondago

    what ashame, to see what the world is coming to. i will be calling to see what i can do to help. i encourage anyone who can help please do so, no matter what or how small every little thing can help.

    Suggest Removal

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