A costly act of vandalism struck Jim Burke Ford on Sunday evening, leaving an estimated $70,000 worth of damage to showroom windows and 15 new and used vehicles, according to the dealership’s president and CEO.
“It’s hard to imagine why someone would choose to be so destructive at a time when people throughout Kern County are dealing with personal and economic hardships,” Dan Hay said Thursday.
In a news release, the dealership states someone hurled “dozens” of rocks at the showroom windows at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
The act is seen as just an act of vandalism and not an attempted burglary, according to Hay as well as Bakersfield Police Department Sgt. Nathan McCauley. While the dealership has previously experienced vandalism, Hay said there has never been one like this in the dealership’s more than 40-year history at 2001 Oak St.
“Over the years we’ve experienced a number of lesser acts of vandalism — graffiti, vehicle or lot damage — but nothing as egregious or costly as this,” Hay said.
Shortly after the dealership was hit, a similar incident occurred just down the road at the Burger King at 3302 California Ave., according to Hay and the BPD. McCauley said a suspect was detained following the incident at Burger King, but was soon released.
“We had a witness (from the dealership vandalism) but they could not identify (the suspect),” McCauley said.
Since Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 19 stay-at-home order, many local business owners near and around downtown have said they've seen an increase in vandalism and burglaries as many businesses have been forced to close their doors.
Hay said his dealership had worked hard to adjust to the “new normal” by implementing various health and safety practices for their employees and customers.
“It is pretty demoralizing to have your business and property defaced after struggling to operate and serve our customers in the midst of a global pandemic,” Hay said.
In mid-April, McCauley said that downtown vandalism and burglaries had not increased since the stay-at-home order when compared to their 2019 statistics.
However, McCauley said on Thursday that vandalism has increased throughout the city by 20 percent when compared to the 2019.
“Vandalism downtown has remained pretty consistent but it is up throughout all zones of the city,” McCauley said. “In particular you’re seeing an increase in areas like the Oleander neighborhood and ‘the hill’ zone just north of downtown.”
As of Thursday, there have been 36 incidents of vandalism recorded by Bakersfield police since April 20, according to the BPD’s CrimeMapping tool.
Hay said his staff was able to get the showroom cleaned and ready for business by 9 a.m. Monday. He said they will be adding additional security protocol to ensure the safety of their showroom, inventory and property.
“Realistically, there is very little anyone could have said or done to dissuade the vandal from doing what he did,” Hay said. “What we can do is work together as neighbors, business leaders and community members to find solutions that make our community a safer place for us all to live and work.”
No arrests have been made and the case remains open for investigation, according to McCauley.