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Beware of dangerous street prank
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During the past year, there have been mischievous instances of vandals throwing containers of paint onto the roadways, causing paint damage to vehicles, slippery roadway conditions and unsightly markings on our streets. This kind of vandalism sparked much concern and anger by the motorists whose cars suffered damage as well as others in the community.

But in the last several months, another crime has been taking place on our streets - one that is much more sinister, and an immediate danger to peoples' lives. In Ceres alone, there have been some 10 instances where criminals have placed large chunks of concrete weighing anywhere from 25 to 100 pounds in the middle of busy thoroughfares. When struck, these chunks of concrete destroy the undercarriage of the vehicle leading to loss of steering control, blown tires, and slippery engine fluids spilling onto the roadway. There is also the likelihood of these events leading to head-on collisions, vehicles running off the roadway endangering vehicles and pedestrians, and has the potential to cause serious injuries and deaths.

We were all upset by the paint "bombs" being thrown on the streets, but what these criminals are now doing with concrete blocks can be considered acts of malice. Surely, any person who plans and carries out the act of leaving concrete chunks on our roads has to have a criminal mind, knowing full well the potential for injuries and deaths. These are not silly pranks that have gone too far; they are pre-meditated acts where the perpetrators intentionally seek to maim, injure or kill totally innocent motorists, and law enforcement will handle these criminal offenders accordingly. Persons found guilty of such a crime could face serious charges of manslaughter, or in some cases, murder.

I should clarify that the person who does the actual placing of concrete on the road is not the only one who will be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent. If there is a driver or another passenger involved, or if someone knowingly conceals the crime, they too can be prosecuted. Parents are also vulnerable to civil liability claims if their minor children are involved in these crimes.

As a preventative measure, we are asking that persons responsible for construction sites ensure that they remove or fence off all concrete blocks to make these materials somewhat less accessible. Motorists are also advised to be extra careful and actively look out for concrete blocks in the roads. In some instances, these vulgar criminals are even painting them black to make them blend in with the roadway asphalt. Some are even being placed in plastic bags, to appear like empty trash bags in the road. These chunks can be found on any roadway, but they are most likely to show up where the speed limits are in the higher ranges and where street lighting levels are relatively low.

I am aware that these concrete chunk incidents have occurred throughout Stanislaus County, and while I have not found reports of them happening elsewhere yet, I suspect this is not isolated to this region alone. Somewhere, someone is talking about their misdeeds - whether it is at schools, at home with family/friends, via social media, or in other forums. If anyone knows anything whatsoever about these crimes, I implore them to come forward to share their knowledge with the police. Think of the guilt and shame that will follow if you have knowledge of these crimes and their perpetrators, do not come forward to assist the investigation, and an innocent person ends up being seriously injured or killed.

I am nothing short of alarmed that our society is now producing such vicious people with no regard for human life, and they must be apprehended and face severe penalties for these callous acts. People who do things like this must be imprisoned to keep innocent members of the public safe from their cruel acts. In the meantime, please share this information with as many people as possible. It is always smart to drive defensively, but all motorists now have an added element for which to have much concern.