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Though auto vandalism is rare, the costs add up

Mon., Aug. 20, 2007

The pain of a vandalized car stings twice.

First there’s the awful discovery that a personal possession has been smashed or slashed by some inconsiderate thrill seeker. Then there’s the realization that the cost to fix the damage is probably less than your insurance deductible, meaning the full cost will come out of pocket.

Dozens of Spokane drivers got that hard lesson in recent weeks when vandals slashed tires and beat on cars with a baseball bat in two separate crime sprees.

Such rashes of vehicle vandalism are rare, officers said. In fact, neither the Spokane Police Department nor Spokane County Sheriff’s Office even tracks statistics on vehicle vandalism. Those numbers are instead incorporated into the larger category of malicious mischief.

The recent works of several malcontents were isolated incidents, said Spokane Officer Janice Dashiell.

“It just doesn’t much happen,” said Spokane County sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan. Spokane Valley residents experienced a car-smashing spree last summer, but there haven’t been similar problems this year, Reagan said.

Dashiell said damage is more often caused during vehicle prowling.

Whatever the reason (or lack of one) for the destruction, the victims end up paying.

“A lot of times with vandalism it doesn’t pay to make a claim,” said Gwen Dony at Buck & Affiliates Insurance.

The typical $500 comprehensive auto insurance deductible is often well above the cost to replace a window or tire.

“It depends on how many tires are slashed and what size tires they have,” said Bruce Carlson, shop manager at Divine’s Tires and Auto Center on the North Side. “Most of the time you can get it for less than the $500 deductible, so it’s not even worth turning it in.”

Windows can be another matter, however, said Dion McCauley at Cascade Auto Glass in Spokane Valley.

“Vandals go for the door windows or the back windows. And they’ll break more than one,” McCauley said.

A door window can cost between $100 and $1,500, depending on the vehicle, he said.

That higher cost can hurt more, but there is one silver lining for victims.

If the perpetrator is caught, more damage means a stiffer penalty.

Prices (kind of) explained

State Attorney General Rob McKenna took the Exxon tiger by the tail when he decided to look into Washington gasoline prices.

The first phase of his study came out on Thursday, with some interesting information about what’s going on, if not answers to all the whys.

Spokane residents will remember a nasty turn of events last summer when local gas prices were 18.1 cents higher per gallon than those in Seattle.

McKenna’s report doesn’t explain why that happened or why the last five years have typically seen Spokane prices well below those in the Puget Sound area. It does offer some interesting clues, however.

First, oil company representatives told McKenna’s staff that prices are not set on a “cost-plus” basis, but are rather market driven. McKenna’s report also notes that the lowest prices in Washington were in counties bordering Idaho.

While the report doesn’t make this jump, Getting There will take the plunge with a fairly basic economic hypothesis. Oil companies recoup costs and then tack on whatever else they think people will pay. Drivers here have (lower-priced) choices over the border, where Idaho’s gas tax is 11 cents less per gallon than Washington’s gas tax.

Bottom line: Oil companies ding West Siders because they have nowhere else to go.

Was that a T-38 Talon?

Yes it was, if you’re asking about five fighter jets that flew into Spokane International Airport on Friday.

The Washington Air National Guard planes were there to refuel, said airport spokesman Todd Woodard.

That’s not unusual. About 100 military aircraft land at Spokane International each month, Woodard said.

In addition to refueling, military and commercial training flights will use the airport for “touch-and-go” landings.

The airport charges just half its typical landing fee if planes don’t require any services, he said.

In addition to military flights, SIA also hosts the bright yellow Boeing 747s used to carry fuselages for its new 787.

Keep looking up.

Rough in a good way

The Idaho Transportation Department is moving rumble strips to center stage, adding 100 miles of them this summer to the double center line of highways to alert drivers if they are crossing into oncoming traffic.

A study of U.S. Highway 12 found that more than 20 percent of crashes were caused by vehicles crossing the center line.

That highway is a recipient of the new rumble strips.

Another 200 miles of rumble strips are being installed on Idaho highway shoulders, to keep drivers from drifting off the road.

Slow going


“The Altamont, Thor/Freya and Second Avenue I-90 ramps will be undergoing maintenance this week. Watch for intermittent closures.


“In Browne’s Addition, Second Avenue is closed from Sunset Boulevard to Coeur d’Alene Street. There is no parking along it or on Cannon Street between Pacific Avenue and Riverside Avenue.

North Spokane

“Crestline Street is reduced to one lane in each direction from North Foothills Drive/Euclid Avenue to Wellesley Avenue for local access only. Other traffic is being detoured.

“Ash Street is closed from Francis Avenue to Northwest Boulevard.

South Spokane

“29th Avenue is closed west of Glenrose Road.

“Northbound U.S. Highway 195 is reduced to one lane in several places between Spangle and Hatch Road.

“Southeast Boulevard is closed from Perry Street to Fourth Avenue.

Spokane Valley

“Trent Avenue is restricted to one lane in each direction this week between Butler and Williams roads.

“Bowdish Road will be closed Thursday between 40th Avenue and Dishman-Mica Road for utility work.

“Highway 27 has been reduced to single-lane traffic near 46th Avenue from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


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