Police in Lower Township are investigating several unusual cases of vandalism to local homes. Victims are having a hard time understanding what police believe is a money making scheme.
"I was pretty shocked, I didn't know what to think." Looking at the quick patch job, Jennifer Redman is still trying to understand why someone would intentionally rip a hole in the roof of her house in the Villas section of Lower Township. "It is really horrible," she said, "I mean why would someone go and do something like that?"
Police think they know why her home and another on Birch Road became the targets of this odd case of vandalism that was discovered over the weekend, and say at least one person has fallen for this apparent scheme. "They're causing damage to the homes by peeling the shingles back and then punching holes in the wood with a tool," explained Det. Sgt. Ernest Macomber with the Lower Township Police Department, "later, I guess people are going back and trying to make money, saying I'll repair your house for you."
"I never heard anything like that before," said Ray Mellor. Neighbors of the houses that were damaged were surprised to see the gaping holes, "The shingles were bent back, like the wind had pushed them back," and even more surprised when police revealed what they believe is the motive behind them. "There's plenty of work for anybody who can swing a hammer 50 miles up the road," said Mellor, shaking his head.
Right up the street, authorities say eight similar incidents were reported this same time last year, all within a several block radius, four of them on Spruce Avenue.
"We had a leak come through the roof, then I went up onto the roof and seen that there were shingles peeled away in unusual spots." It was a situation that Michael Austin could hardly believe. Realizing the damage had to have been man-made, he contacted police. "It's costly to fix a roof," he said, "as a contractor, I know how much it costs."
It's the reality that victims, like Redman, are now facing - having to dish out hundreds, if not thousands, to repair the damage. "I'll be honest, I'm upset about it," she said, "it's an expense I didn't account for right now."
Officials say that many of the houses damaged were seasonal homes, and ask that people be good neighbors and report any suspicious activity.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Lower Township Police at 609-886-2711.