BELLAIRE - It's been an eventful few weeks for the Bellaire Police Department.
First, there was the incident at Eastern Division Court when Sylvester Walker took off out of the courtroom and had to be apprehended after Belmont County Sheriff's Deputies shot out a tire to his intended getaway vehicle and chase him down near McMahon's Creek.
Then, someone took the time to spray paint graffiti all over the courthouse, with taunting messages aimed at both the judges and members of the police department.
However, during that span, the department and Police Chief Mike Kovalyk have had to deal with the issues of tires ... flat tires to be exact.
"Last week, we had 24 incidents of vehicles with damage to their tires," Kovalyk said. "They were punctured, slashed.
"We have some info, some leads we're checking into.
"A lot of damage was done and tires are not cheap."
Kovalyk noted that it's more than just an inconvenience.
What if a family member had an emergency, he asked, and rushed out to their vehicle, only to discover a flat tire.
It's a thoughtless crime, but one the chief admitted happens all too often.
"It's a crime we've had time and time again and not just in Bellaire. Other towns in the area have had the same problem," Kovalyk said.
"Some people just have no consideration for others."
Kovalyk noted that the slashings took place on Trumbull, Noble and Jefferson streets, among others. He asked if anyone saw the incidents or has any information to contact the police department.
"The good people of Bellaire have helped us in the past in solving crimes and we're asking them to do the same this time for these cases of vandalism."
When asked about the graffiti, Kovalyk stated that there are a few leads being check into and that the department is working with the Bureau of Criminal Investigations, along with division court personnel.
Video is being examined from the businesses surrounding the courthouse to see if the tagger or taggers in questions can be identified.
The department did receive kudos and thanks in the form of a letter addressed to department and village council from Bill Shubat, the director of the Belmont County Board of Elections.
Officers from the Bellaire Police Department assisted at the polls during the recent special primary election, along with one officer being stationed at the election board office in St. Clairsville.
"We thank you for all the help given to the office throughout the years," Shubat wrote in his correspondence.
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