DELRAY BEACH — Edward and Evelyn Trutti came downstairs around 11 a.m. today to run some errands.
That’s when the Maryland snowbirds were startled to discover what their neighbors standing in the parking lot at the Verano at Delray condo complex had known for hours:
Some person or persons had methodically slashed tires on dozens of cars. Here, at this complex off Linton Boulevard between Interstate 95 and Military Trail, and at the adjacent Crosswinds complex. Perhaps 200 cars.
“From one to all four tires,” Delray Beach police spokesman Jeff Messer said. “Senseless damage to all these vehicles.”
“Damages could certainly be in six figures,” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise us if it was more than one person. The damage is very expensive. Very costly. And we don’t know a reason.”
Evelyn Trutti agreed.
“ I don’t understand,” she said as her husband struggled to lower himself to see the three of four tires that sagged flat.
It’s an expense the retirees can ill afford.
“No. Definitely not,” she sighed. “Oh, what a happy Thanksgiving. Well, the good Lord is still there.”
The good lord and Saul Caplan, a neighbor who was trying to help the Truttis after he had just replaced two tires on his own Jeep Wrangler.
Each of the giant off-road tires had been slashed at least seven times.
“It had to be a dagger;” the Englishman said in his Manchester accent. “To get through that (the tread) is a hell of a job.”
His cost: $420. Plus his sweat. Plus a day of lost work as a massage therapist at the Ritz Carlton in Manalapan.
In 10 years at the complex, he said, “we’ve had cars stolen, bikes stolen.” But nothing like this.
But, he said, “I think I’m one of the lucky ones.” He’d lost only two tires, albeit expensive ones. And his girlfriend hadn’t spent the night, or her car would have been here as well.
You’d think the sound of air hissing out of so many tires in the still of night would have alerted someone.
“I’m a light sleeper,” Caplan said. “I didn’t hear a thing. Nobody did.”
One resident after another reported coming out for what was expected to be a normal day of work, only to find out it would be anything but.
“I had to call my boss and tell him I’m not coming,” said Sarah Cresto, a manager at a salon, who said she’ll have to comb junkyards for two used replacements for her Chevrolet Cavalier. “Money I won’t make, and money I’ve got to spend.”
Jim Wormer said he’s out about $300 — not enough to mess with his insurer.
He wondered what would spur someone to toil so hard to bring misery to so many for no reason.
“It takes a lot of work to do as many cars as they did,” Wormer said.
All around him, otherwise shiny vehicles sagged sadly. Some already had been shorn of flats and the metal wheels stood naked and garish or were covered with small, pathetic emergency spares.
And tow trucks moved in and out in a steady parade of woe.
Jack Christensen of Charley’s Towing in Boynton Beach was making his company’s 20th run to Verano this morning.
Finishing a call to his office on a cellphone, he said his firm was happy for the work, but took no pleasure in the circumstances.
This tow was for a shiny silver Porsche Carerra 911.
“You can see all the slices on the tires,” he said.
Ian Ettley was lucky only in that his motorcycle was in a garage at the complex. He’d used it this morning to race nearly an hour to Jupiter to open the bank branch where he’s a manager. And then race back down to deal with the carnage at his apartment.
The vandals got his wife’s Ford Edge. And the Ford F-150 truck of his brother, who was living with the couple for a week because he’d just moved from Vero Beach for a new job. And Ettley’s Cadillac DeVille.
“Yeah, I got special attention,” he said.
His loss just for the Caddy: $600 for three tires, plus labor, plus a tow truck.
“Correction,” he suddenly said, as a tow truck operator pointed to the back right tire. It, too, now was slowly sagging. Ettley ran his hand over a stab the shape and width of a flathead screwdriver.
The vandals apparently knew that a slash on a sidewall can’t be repaired.
“I’d love for them to come knock on my door,” Ettley said with a sinister smile. “I’d personally thank them.”
Jeanette Ramos, the complex’s manager, said she was was not able to comment until she talks to the condo association board.
Anyone with information about the incident may be able to collect a $1,000 reward, Messer said. Delray police can be contacted at (561) 243-7800.