North Carolina governor offers $5,000 reward to find whoever left nails in police parking lot

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is offering a $5,000 reward to help find whoever damaged vehicles at the Hickory Police Department earlier this month by leaving nails in the parking lot.

Hickory authorities said on Valentine's Day they found more than 50 black, half-inch metal tacks in the employee parking access areas and public parking access at the police department.

Police vehicles, as well as civilian cars, ran over the nails, flattening tires. Deputy Police Chief Reed Baer said seven of the department's patrol vehicles had flat tires and at least two employees also had damage to their cars.

“This not only puts citizens in danger, it puts police officers in danger,” Baer said. “It damages property and it costs taxpayer money. All of this comes together to make this a cowardly stupid act.”

Detectives are looking through security video and are hopeful they’ll be able to identify the culprit.

Police said the incident is considered “highly dangerous to general public safety and the safety of our officers. Incidents of vandalism to tires could cause potential vehicle crashes due to tire failure or more importantly, the inability of emergency personnel to reach citizens in need due to the inoperability of vehicles.”

Anyone who visited the police department on either Feb. 13 or Feb. 14 and thinks they suffered damage to their car that requires a police report for documentation can get a copy, free of charge, at police headquarters.

“This is more serious than mere damage to property. This act put lives at risk and is inexcusable. Once we identify those responsible, we will pursue charges to the fullest extent to the law,” said Police Chief Thurman Whisnant.

Right now, police do not have a motive behind the vandalism, but Michael Ritchie, who has repaired tires for 40 years, said the small nails can do a lot of damage.

“They can actually puncture a tire, especially if you get two, three or four of them,” Ritchie, from Sigs Tire, said. “It can make a tire go down quick.”

This investigation is ongoing and anyone with information should call Hickory police at 828-328-5551.

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