Tire Slashing is Back!

On March 15, in Costa Mesa, California, our dancer bus’s tire was slashed. It was a deep, curved cut that severed half of the rubber and was done in such a way that the tire would not deflate but only burst under pressure at high speed. The fact that it was on a front tire meant that the bus could go out of control on the highway.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because back in January 2010 we had an incident in Ottawa, Canada, when the driver’s routine pre-trip inspection discovered an identical cut, also on a front tire. When taken to repair, the mechanic said the cut was very interesting; he was the first to identify that the purpose of the cut was to make the tire explode at high speed.

Three days later, my group’s bus had a tire burst at 1am while traveling on I-40 West between Memphis, TN and Little Rock, AR. This was the first time in four years one of the company’s buses had a burst or flat tire. Two days later, while in Little Rock, I was part of our truck’s pre-trip inspection, when I discovered a similar slash on one of its tires. We immediately took it to be replaced.

Ever since these incidents, we’ve had security watching our vehicles 24-7. They’ve caught a few people trying to tamper with them, including in Atlanta (2013), Fort Worth (2013), and another incident in Costa Mesa (2014).

Ten years ago, one of our companies arrived in Southern California’s Costa Mesa ahead of a five-day run at the prestigious Segerstrom Center for the Arts. That night, March 12, our guards watching the buses and truck noticed suspicious activity around it. At 1:15am, the four security guards spotted a man in his 20s sneaking up to the vehicles. When they walked up to him, he ran away. Around 5:00am, another man approached, but when a guard noticed him, he ran off as well.

So how did someone get close enough to our bus this time to cut it? The bus had been taken to a local garage for regular maintenance, and the cut was discovered when the bus was picked up. The suspicion is that someone had followed the bus there and made the incision when no one was watching.

The police report noted an “approximately 7-inch slash on the side wall,” and that “the damage looked like a fresh cut in the rubber.”

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