Friday, February 03, 2023

Vandals strike businesses, homes, vehicles around Libby

by Canda Harbaugh & Western News
| April 30, 2009 12:00 AM

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office is following possible leads as to who may be responsible for breaking windows in more than 50 vehicles, businesses and homes throughout the Libby area in the wee hours of Thursday morning.

Law-enforcement officials speculate that a group of young, intoxicated adults drove through town from about 2-6 a.m., using a slingshot to cause over $30,000 worth of damage.

“It’s probably closer to $40,000 or $50,000, but I’m being conservative,” said Capt. Roby Bowe of the sheriff’s office.

The perpetrators broke windows of more than 20 businesses, 30 vehicles and a few homes, and left the projectiles – ball bearings and various-sized metal nuts – at the scene. 

The damage mainly occurred in the downtown business area and toward Farm to Market Road, according to Bowe, although vandalism was reported as far away as 15 miles south of town.

Sheriff officers have watched hours of surveillance footage from various businesses to get a vehicle description, Bowe said, and identified a possible vehicle.

“We’re following possible leads and have some suspects,” Bowe said, “but we haven’t come up with anything solid yet.”

The suspects and vehicle may be linked to the dozens of road signs and mailboxes that have been mowed down in past weeks, Bowe said.

Tips have flooded into the sheriff’s office, though many of them are unfounded.

“We get a lot of those calls and have to filter through that stuff,” Bowe said, regarding a rumor that high school kids caused the damage. “We’ve talked to the principals and told them to call us if they hear anything.”

Bowe said that the hours that the crimes occurred and the extent of the damage point to the work of “post-juvenile delinquents.”

Breaking windows for amusement is not a new phenomenon in Libby, but officers and residents agree that the extent of the damage is unprecedented. 

“We’ve had cases where we’ve had a lot of damage, yes, but not quite to this extent,” Bowe said.

Libby Police officer Terry Watson spent Thursday taking reports of the approximately 25 businesses and vehicles that were hit within city limits.

The first report came in at about 2:35 a.m. from Maggie’s Casino. The cleaning lady reported that the window could have been broken while she was vacuuming. The second report came in at 4:15 a.m. – a city patrol car parked outside the officer’s house had been hit.

After the third report at 5:44 a.m., Watson went on shift early.

“I knew that if there was those three,” Watson said, “there would probably be more.”

Watson made his way up Louisiana Avenue, the site of the third report, and adjacent streets, waking up residents whose vehicles sat damaged in their driveways.

“It’s just total ignorance,” Watson said. “There’s not cause for it. There are so many places that were hit – it’s just random vandalism.”