SAN FRANCISCO — Police were investigating why four Smart cars were flipped over during an apparent vandalism spree early Monday morning in San Francisco.
The first car was found flipped on its roof around 1 a.m., and a second was spotted on its side around a couple of blocks away about 10 minutes later in the city’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, said Officer Gordon Shyy, a police spokesman.
Police then discovered a third Smart car flipped on its trunk around 1:30 a.m. in the Portola neighborhood. A fourth car was found flipped on its side shortly after 9 a.m., also in Bernal Heights.
All of the cars had shattered windows and some body damage, Shyy said. Police were looking for multiple suspects wearing black hooded sweatshirts who were in the area at the time of the destruction.
Shyy said it was not known whether the vandalism of the popular tiny, lightweight, inexpensive cars was just a prank or another episode in the escalating tensions between some residents who blame the resurgent tech industry for rising rents and higher cost of living in the city.
“It’s hard to determine a motive without any suspects identified or in custody,” said Shyy, who added that the culprits would face felony vandalism charges.
As she waited patiently for an insurance adjuster, Shelley Gallivan stood Monday afternoon near the fourth Smart car that was vandalized, a small white compact with a faded “Obama-Biden” bumper sticker. Gallivan was watching the car for her friend, Wendy Orner, who lives in Cincinnati and had a baby nearly two months ago.
The car was left to Orner by her 70-year-old father, who died in January. Gallivan said she found out the car was damaged when a neighbor texted a picture.
Orner said Monday that she still plans to sell the car when she’s in San Francisco for her father’s memorial in June.
“He was proud that at age 70 he was driving it around. He felt real progressive in it,” Orner said. “Although, I don’t know if anyone wants to buy a Smart car now after what happened.”
Gallivan said she moved the car from in front of her house to a nearby corner – despite her husband’s reservations – to allow a bigger car to move into the space.
She hopes the vandalism isn’t the start of a new trend.
“It’s a bummer. I’m sure hoping it’s just a prank and not those who are trying to make a bigger statement in regards to the gentrification in the city,” Gallivan said.