Vandals break windows with rocks, marbles, BBs over the weekend

2014-08-27T16:30:00Z 2014-08-28T14:59:04Z Vandals break windows with rocks, marbles, BBs over the weekendBy CHRIS CIOFFI The Billings Gazette

Michele Haslam was having trouble sleeping early Sunday in her Cook Avenue home.

At about 2:45 a.m., she lay awake next to her husband until the silence of their bedroom was shattered.

“All of a sudden I hear this noise,” she said. “It sounded like a gun.”

The mother of four children jumped out of bed and onto the floor, fearing that someone was shooting at their home.

Through their bedroom’s picture window, which had a fist-sized hole, she saw a car take off down the street but couldn’t see any specifics like the color or model.

After calling the police, she discovered a smooth stone near their bed, she said. “The rock landed just inches from my husband’s head.”

Haslam got another scare Wednesday morning when she got an estimate to replace the window.

“I got the invoice from my contractor this morning; it’s almost $500,” she said. “That’s just for the glass.”

Getting the glass installed will add to the cost and could take a minimum of five weeks, she said, staring at the hole, which for now is covered by plastic. Glass installers are still bogged down from May’s hail storm.

Haslam’s home was one of 28 cases in which rocks, BBs or marbles were hurled through the windows of homes, cars and businesses, according to Billings Police Department records.

Of the 28 identified in the three-day period, the majority occurred on Saturday and Sunday during the night.

They happened mainly in the Billings Heights in an area between River Oaks Drive and Wicks Lane, and on the West End past North 24th Street West north of Grand Avenue.

^pThe incidents are classified as criminal mischief, said BPD Lt. Kevin Iffland. Defendants are also charged with criminal mischief when they damage property while committing other crimes, deface property with graffiti or commit other types of vandalism.^p

A total of 33 criminal mischief cases were investigated by the BPD over the weekend, he said. In the entire month of July, 153 cases of criminal mischief were reported, which averages to about five incidents per day.

Not a single witness was able to provide suspect information from the weekend’s incidents, making an investigation impossible, Iffland said.

The idea that the vandals are still out there has left Haslam feeling afraid to be in her own bed.

“I’m not sleeping well,” she said. “Because what if they come back and do it again?”

People with information on the incidents can call Crime Stoppers at 245-6660.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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