Residents of the Carlaw Avenue and Queen Street East area in Leslieville have found themselves in a familiar position once again.
Over a dozen of them learned that from Thursday night into Friday morning their tires had been slashed, and this wasn’t the first time.
Area resident Paul Dupuis was one of those who didn’t find out until Friday morning — and the hard way to boot.
“I went, picked up the wife to take her to work and I pulled out and she says ‘listen to your tire!’ Next thing I know? ‘Boom ba boom ba boom,’” he said, describing the sound of his flattened tire rolling under the weight of his vehicle.
If you took a walk down Winnifred Avenue, running south off Queen Street East, west of Carlaw Avenue, one could see vehicle after vehicle tilted to the passenger side; often times with both tires parked along the sidewalk slashed and flattened.
“I came outside and both my tires were slashed,” Joe Palango told Global News on Friday.
“My mother-in-law’s tire and I think, 14 other cars (had their tires slashed),” he said.
The bulk of the incidents are believed to have occurred on Winnifred Avenue, though area residents said tires were also slashed on nearby Brooklyn, Blong and Audley avenues.
“The street has been hit about three times, the neighbourhood a little more than that,” said Winnifred Avenue resident Rob Retchless.
“In this particular incident it was multiple streets. I don’t know how he … or she slashed so many tires in such a short period of time,” he said
As Retchless watched his SUV get loaded into a flatbed and towed away, he held a yellow sheet of paper in his hand. The parking ticket was extra salt in the wound for him. Not only did he need to get two tires replaced, he had also been hit with a $30 ticket for parking on the street overnight.
“We couldn’t move the car last night,” Retchless explained.
“I generally don’t park overnight on the street, I pull it into the back. But because it happened before midnight, they ticketed me overnight,” he said.
Multiple residents said they have phoned and filed reports with Toronto police.
On Friday afternoon, investigators released two surveillance photos of a suspect in these cases. He was described as 25 to 30 years old, five-foot-ten, and 190 pounds. The suspect was last seen wearing dark pants, a dark sweater, and an olive-coloured baseball cap.
Late on Friday, Toronto police told Global News a male suspect was arrested. He has been identified as Ahmad Zafar, 28, of Toronto.
He has been charged with 78 counts of mischief / damage to property not exceeding $5000.
Investigators said they believe the latest incidents are linked to a total of over 60 cases of vandalism to vehicles in Leslieville since July 1. The majority of those cases occurring on Wednesday nights or Thursday mornings, though they said several have occurred outside of those hours.
— With files from Nick Westoll