Thursday, June 2, 2016

Anchorage police release surveillance images in plane tire slashing case

Kathryn's Report: http://www.kathrynsreport.com


In this Thursday, June 30, 2016 photo, Kris Nedwick discusses damage done to his private airplane in early June when an overnight vandalism spree left dozens of airplanes with slashed tires at a small airport in Anchorage, Alaska. No arrests have been made in the incident discovered the morning of June 2.


In this Thursday, June 30, 2016 photo, Kris Nedwick discusses damage done to his private airplane in early June when an overnight vandalism spree left dozens of airplanes with slashed tires.


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — One month after the tires on 87 private airplanes were slashed at a small airport in Alaska's largest city, police publicly released grainy surveillance images Friday showing what they are calling a person of interest in the unsolved case.

The four images show a figure dressed in dark clothing and wearing a backpack near airplanes recorded around 1:20 a.m. June 2 at Merrill Field in Anchorage. The person in the image is shown on foot near airplanes in three of the images, and at a gate in the fourth. Police are hoping publicly releasing the images will lead to further information.

There have been no arrests or suspects identified by police or the FBI, which is assisting in the investigation. Police said the images were found after police reviewed hundreds of hours of surveillance footage from the area. Police still have more footage to review.

Soon after the incident, police asked area businesses and others for surveillance footage, and did so again on Friday.

The consensus among many affected pilots is that this was no ordinary vandalism spree, but a carefully orchestrated mission. The airport, located at the edge of downtown, is home to 830 aircraft.

"It was an organized effort," said Anchorage pilot Kris Nedwick, whose Piper Cub was among those hit. "It was clearly a well-executed, well-planned-out act of organized vandalism. I don't know that I would call it vandalism because vandalism seems so random."

In this case, the planes targeted are in two areas not covered by security cameras, pilots pointed out, with much of the damage done to aircraft parked near Merrill Field's southern perimeter where the nearest entrance does have cameras. Also, pilots don't see how one person could have done all the damage, which involved cutting and piercing the two main wheels and tail wheel on scores of aircraft. Aircraft tires can run as high as $2,000 each.

Another pilot, Lars Gleitsmann, is among some pilots who speculate the incident might have involved a group of people with some kind of agenda, such as environmental extremists, neighbors angry about the noise caused by planes, or individuals launching some kind of class warfare against people who own private aircraft.

"If you look at the political landscape of the United States now, there are so many people that are radicalized," he said.

Merrill Field manager Paul Bowers said every potential lead was being explored in the investigation. No theories are being automatically rejected.

"It clearly was targeted vandalism in a clearly concerted effort," he said. "Everything beyond that is pure conjecture."

FBI spokeswoman Staci Feger-Pellessier said Friday her agency is assisting in the investigation, and she referred questions to Anchorage police.

Police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said every possible angle is being investigated. But she added that investigators have not been able to determine a motive at this point.


http://www.timesunion.com





ANCHORAGE – Police are looking for anyone with information about who may have caused $200,000 damage to airplanes at Merrill Field in early June. According to a release on Friday, the Anchorage Police Department says security camera footage shows a person who was there early that morning.

Around 9 a.m. on June 2, APD was notified that more than 80 aircraft at Merrill Field had their tires slashed. In the release Friday, the department stated it has since investigated to find suspects in the case, including watching hundreds of hours of surveillance footage from the area.

Police say they have found a person of interest in the case shown in the images above, but do not have a positive identity. The person was on foot in Merrill Field around 1:20 a.m. on June 2 in the areas where the planes were vandalized, according to police, and was wearing dark clothing and carrying a backpack that may have a reflector on the left side.

Cash rewards are being offered for anyone with information that leads to an arrest. The Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation set up GoFundMe account to be used as a reward fund for information leading to the arrest of anyone responsible for the vandalism. In addition to the GoFundMe reward, Anchorage Crime Stoppers will pay $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of responsible parties.

Tips must be received by Anchorage Crime Stoppers to be eligible for these rewards; anyone offering information will remain anonymous. If you know anything about these crimes, call Crime Stoppers at 561-STOP or submit an anonymous tip online at www.anchoragecrimestoppers.com.

Anyone with any information about the person shown is these images is asked to contact APD at 786-8900. If any additional businesses or organizations have surveillance footage from June 2, 2016 between 12:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. in the Merrill Field area, they are asked to contact APD.


Read more here:  http://www.ktva.com





Anchorage police say this person, seen early June 2 at Merrill Field, is a “person of interest” in the slashing of an estimated $200,000 worth of plane tires. (Courtesy APD)


Almost a month after dozens of airplane tires were slashed at Anchorage's Merrill Field, police are once again calling for the public's help in finding the person responsible – this time releasing fuzzy surveillance images of a person who might be connected to the crime.

Police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said in a statement Friday morning that images showing the "person of interest" were found after officers reviewed "hundreds of hours" of surveillance footage from cameras at the field. 

Police say the June 2 vandalism, which affected 87 aircraft parked at Merrill Field, did an estimated $200,000 in damage to plane tires valued at $2,000 to $3,000 apiece.

"The person shown in the images was on foot in Merrill Field around 1:20 a.m. on June 2, in the areas where the planes were vandalized," Castro wrote. "The person in the image is wearing dark clothing and had on a backpack that possibly has a reflector on the left side."

Castro said by email Friday that detectives investigating the case declined to comment on whether the surveillance imagery showed the person actually slashing tires.

"We've reviewed footage from over 55 cameras at Merrill Field looking at seven hours of footage from each one," Castro wrote.

Anchorage Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case, and the Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation has set up a GoFundMe page taking donations toward a further reward. As of Friday morning, the foundation's reward fund was up to nearly $3,000 in donations.

Only tips submitted to Anchorage Crime Stoppers at 907-561-STOP or its website will be eligible for the rewards.


Read more here:  http://www.adn.com




ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — One month after the tires on 87 private airplanes were slashed at a small airport in Alaska's largest city, police publicly released grainy surveillance images Friday showing what they are calling a person of interest in the unsolved case.

The four images show a figure dressed in dark clothing and wearing a backpack near airplanes recorded around 1:20 a.m. June 2 at Merrill Field in Anchorage. The person in the image is shown on foot near airplanes in three of the images, and at a gate in the fourth.

There have been no arrests or suspects identified by police or the FBI, which is assisting in the investigation.


But the consensus among many affected pilots is that this was no ordinary vandalism spree, but a carefully planned and orchestrated mission.




Help Alaska Bush Pilots: https://www.gofundme.com

Merrill Field – Web Camera System: http://merrillwebcam.org

Airframes Alaska: http://www.airframesalaska.com

"Pixie dust" used in manufacturing Alaskan Bush wheels.



ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Editor's note:An earlier version of this story said Airframes Alaska is the only Alaska supplier of tundra tires. Seaplanes North, located at Anchorage's Lake Hood, said it also supplies the tires.

An Alaska supplier of the large “tundra tires” used on many bush planes is working overtime to meet demand. Airframes Alaska manufactures various Bush Wheel sizes all by hand.

“Each tire can take two days of man hours to actually build on average,” said Heather Montgomery. She says the calls began at 8 am from pilots looking to replace the ones vandalized.

“A lot of these pilots, they make their living on this aircraft and for somebody to do that is just, I don’t even have words, said Montgomery.

A set of two tires can cost between $2,500 and $4,000 depending on the size. The company has ramped up production to meet the new demand, and selling them at cost for victims of the vandalism.

“We’re doing everything we can to get these pilots back in the air. We are working overtime,” said Montgomery. She says 40 sets of tires were sold Thursday and a waiting list is growing.

Story and video:  http://www.ktuu.com



ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Pilots and plane owners are picking up the pieces after more than 100 tires were slashed.  And now many places are sold out of those tires or are on back order because the production of bush plane tires take almost to days of man power to make.

Workers at the only production plant in Alaska, Airframes Alaska, are working around the clock to help Alaskans affected by the recent vandalism, to get replacement tires as soon as possible.

We spoke with Heather Montgomery at Airframes Alaska, she says within hours of learning of the news,  there were people lined up outside their door to get new tires.  Montgomery says something like this can really hurt the Alaskan community and affect families, so they are doing everything they can to produce these tires as fast as they can.

Because these tires are so special and are used mainly on bush planes, the production process of these tires is very different than on other planes, so the company can only produce about six per day.

Airframes Alaska is offering those affected at Merrill Field a discount on new tires, but a pair usually cost around $4,000. 

Story and video: http://www.youralaskalink.com


Paul Bowers





ANCHORAGE -  FRIDAY UPDATE:

Anchorage police say they have not identified a suspect or suspects and do not know the motive in the Thursday vandalism spree that damaged 87 planes at Merrill Field. Expensive tires on the small planes were slashed.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said Anchorage police are also not sure yet if more than one person was involved in the crime which occurred sometime between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Thursday.

FBI spokesman Richard VanVeldhuisen said his agency has not been asked to assist in the investigation.

Anchorage police have asked businesses along E 15th Avenue and Debarr Road to check their surveillance video from midnight to 5 a.m. on Thursday to see if it captured anyone on foot during that time. Asked if the police review of Merrill Field’s security footage or that of nearby businesses has yielded any leads, Castro said police “will not discuss evidence in the case at this time.”

Bob Thompson, an Anchorage aviation artist, said pilots who were not affected by the vandalism are donating plane tires to help those hit by the vandals.

Thompson created a Facebook group, Alaska Aviator’s Resource, so people can share information. There’s also a GoFundMe page for those who want to donate money.

Thompson described the nature and scope of the crime as “mindboggling.”

“It’s over a half-a-mile expanse” of the airport that the vandals hit, he noted.

Anchorage police have released new details on the vandalism that struck Merrill Field in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Police say an unknown number of suspects on foot gained access through the southside of the airport on foot. The vandalism is believed to have taken place between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. this morning, the department said.

Investigators are asking businesses along East 15th Avenue and Debarr Road near the airport to check their surveillance cameras for footage that may have captured those responsible for the crimes. Anyone with information that could be of use is asked to contact APD at 786-8900.


Police also say a cash reward is being offered for information submitted anonymously through crimestoppers that leads to an arrest.

An airport manager says some 87 planes have been vandalized at Merrill Field, with the main tires slashed. That's more than one-tenth of the 850 or so aircraft stationed at the airport with the resulting damage estimated at $150,000 and $200,000, said airport manager Paul Bowers.

Workers doing early-morning field checks noticed the tie-down lines of some planes were slack. When they got closer, they noticed that the tires on several dozen planes had been punctured. Anchorage police were notified shortly afterward, at around 6:30 a.m., Bowers said.

"I've never seen vandalism like this in more than 30 years of airport management," he said. "It's outrageous."

Owners of the vandalized planes have been notified. Anchorage police are reviewing surveillance video of the airport to try to identify a suspect.

Whoever committed the vandalism likely drove onto the airport and jumped a fence to get to the aircraft. The crime comes as Merrill Field is undergoing a $5-million security upgrade that will bring more cameras to the airport and tighter security to the 30 or more access gates, Bowers said.

The vandalism has no doubt inconvenienced pilots who were expecting to travel today or over the weekend. Bowers said he's heard from one charter operator who was expecting to fly passengers on a halibut fishing trip on the Kenai.

"He's not happy," Bowers said.

A pair of small airplane tires can run between $3,500 and $4,000, he noted.

"I've never seen anything like this. This is a showstopper because there's commercial operators, there's private planes, and these guys are down until the tires get replaced," said Davee Bronson, a pilot who was at Merrill Field late Thursday morning.

Bronson said he's had a plane at Merrill Field for 25 years. Owning a small plane in Alaska is kind of like having a pickup truck.

"This is how we hunt and fish," he said. "If this happened in the middle of the winter it would be far less egregious because you have time to recover and you could order tires."

Although his plane wasn't affected, Bronson said the fact that the vandalism happened at the start of the busy summer flying season makes the crime hit closer to home.


http://www.ktuu.com





ANCHORAGE, Alaska - An investigation is underway after more than 80 small planes were vandalized overnight.  The slashed and flattened tires were discovered Thursday morning on 87 or more small planes at Merill Field.  

Security camera footage is being reviewed by the Anchorage Police Department. The manager, Paul Bowers says the airport has more security cameras than any other general aviation airport in the state.  Merrill Field is home to about 830 aircraft. 

Bowers says, "It's not a perfect system, and we don't know if we've captured everything that can be captured at this point."

Bowers says it's ironic that the airport is in the midst of upgrades to it's security system, including it's camera network, fencing and vehicle entrance and exit gates. 

The owners of each plane directly affected have been notified.  The tires for these types of planes can run as high as $2,000 each. Bowers says he has been in airport management for more than 30 years and has never seen anything like this.  "Never heard of it, anywhere in the world."






If you have a plane at Merrill Field airport, now might be a good time to check on it.

Airplane owners arrived at the East Anchorage airfield on Thursday to find tires slashed on scores of planes parked there.

Chris Seaman, who lives in Anchorage, arrived around 6:45 a.m. to fly and got a shock.

"Driving into the parking area, we were like, wow, there's a lot of flat tires out here," he said, "and realized, holy s—, all the tires were slashed."

That included his. He thinks the destruction must have happened Wednesday night.

Ben Merrill, owner of T & B Aircraft Repair, said some tire sets can cost as much as $4,000.

"I've never seen anything like this before. I've been in business 32 years here," Merrill said. He has about 25 customers at Merrill Field and said about half a dozen had their tires flattened. 

Airport officials told the Anchorage Police Department that tires were slashed on about 87 planes but a final count was not yet available, APD spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said in an email. Merrill Field is trying to contact registered owners to inform them to file a police report, Castro said, and APD is investigating.

"We are waiting for all of the victims to file a report so we can get a total figure of the amount of planes damaged," Castro said.

Michael Schoder keeps a plane in a hangar so it wasn't harmed. But he was still floored Thursday morning by the damage to others' planes.

"That's a lot of work, just to walk up to every plane out there," he said. "They were pretty bold."

Also on Thursday morning, just before 10 a.m., a plane ran off the runway at Merrill Field, said Anchorage Fire Marshal Cleo Hill. She said there were no injuries, and fire department crews were at the scene for only seven minutes.

Hill didn't know if the incident was linked to the tire slashing, but a firefighter on the scene said it was unrelated.

Original article can be found here:  http://www.adn.com





More than 80 planes had their tires slashed, amounting to hundreds of tires, overnight at Merrill Field airport.

Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said in an email that police were notified after 9 a.m. Thursday from a person who said their plane had “been vandalized at the Merrill Field Airport and the main wheels had been slashed.”

Management at Merrill Field also reached out to APD, Castro wrote, and said that initial counts approximated 87 aircraft had their tires flattened and that it likely occurred overnight. The airport was working to notify the registered owners of the planes so they can file an online report.

Once APD is able to verify the exact number of planes that were vandalized, they will be able to give an estimated cost of the damage, Castro stated.

Paul Bowers, airport manager at Merrill Field, said he’s never seen anything like it.

He told KTVA that someone made their way into the secure part of the airport and slashed the tires overnight, but that the planes in the open part of the airport weren’t damaged.

The planes were equipped with three tundra tires, big low-pressure tires that allow planes to travel on rough terrain, which cost between $1,000 and $2,000 each. In total, Bowers estimated the cost of the damage at $100,000 to $200,000.

Bowers and Castro said police are investigating the incident and will create one case number for victims of the vandalism to file a complaint.

A local company called Airframes Alaska, makers of the Alaskan Bushwheel, offered to give pilots discounted replacements for their damaged parts.

Original article can be found here: http://www.ktva.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I felt bad for all the pilots who’s planes were damaged until I realized what cheapskates they are. Over 80 planes damaged and together they don’t come up with reward money equal to just one aircraft tire replacement? That’s pathetic.