Police investigate aircraft tire slashings in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Authorities are investigating an overnight vandalism spree that left dozens of airplanes with slashed tires at a small airport in the Alaska's largest city.

The flattened tires were discovered Thursday morning on 87 small planes at Merrill Field, on the edge of downtown Anchorage. Police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said police are investigating the vandalism, but she had few details.

Footage from security cameras was being reviewed as part of the investigation, airfield manager Paul Bowers said. Merrill Field, home to about 830 aircraft, has more security cameras than any other general aviation airport in the state, he said.

"But it's not a panacea," he said. "It's not a perfect system, and we don't know if we've captured everything that can be captured at this point."

Bowers called it ironic that the airport is in the midst of upgrades to its security system, including its camera network, fencing, and vehicle entrance and exit gates. But the existing system was operating at the time of the vandalism, he said.

The best guess so far is that the vandalism occurred between 1:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. Thursday, Bowers said. Citing a request by police, he declined to say what areas of Merrill Field were targeted in the spree.

The affected aircraft owners have been notified directly or through messages, Bowers said. Aircraft tires can run as high as $2,000 each.

Bowers he has been in airport management for more than 30 years, and the slashings are the first such incident he has encountered. "Never heard of it, anywhere in the world," he said.


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