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Donald Daley walked out of his front door on the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 31, and into a volley of curses and groans. Along the 4600 block of Kansas Avenue NW, his neighbors were confronting a rash of flat tires. Daley’s voice soon joined the chorus: Two tires on his ’98 Chrysler Concorde and two on his sister’s ’96 Volkswagen Jetta had been slashed.

All five cars parked on the block that morning had suffered the same indignity. A sixth car escaped, because its owner had driven off early. But by Friday morning, that woman’s car had also acquired two of the neighborhood’s new marks of distinction.

“Every car on our block had at least one doughnut,” says Daley. “I said, ‘[The culprits] aren’t coming back—we’re going to forgive them and go on.’”

But by the next Thursday morning, Jan. 8, the tire-slasher had struck again. This time, all four of Daley’s tires and two more of his sister’s had been taken out. The other cars on the block were similarly afflicted. “I thought it was someone who had it in for the block…someone trying to get us to move out of the neighborhood….

Ever since then, come nighttime, we park in the back yard,” says Daley, whose house sits at the junction of Kansas Avenue and Sherman Circle.

At night, the brown row houses on Kansas Avenue proper seem isolated. Across the street is a small park, bordered by Eugene S. Clark Elementary School on one side and the circle on the other. “A lot of transients walk down from Georgia Avenue,” Daley says. “But we haven’t had any problems in this neighborhood before—it’s mostly responsible, Christian folks who have lived here for many, many years.”

One of Daley’s neighbors, who asks not to be identified, lost one tire in the first incident and all four the second. The next week, lacking a parking space in her back yard, she parked her old Ford on nearby Buchanan Street. That Thursday, two more of her tires were slashed, while the other cars on Buchanan were untouched.

The resident, who was faced with a $250 deductible each time, let her car languish on the side street for two weeks. “I’m old enough to know these are just material things,” she says.

Insurance adjusters have determined that the tires were not just punctured—they were deeply gashed by a wide-blade knife. “The only conclusion I could come to is that this person is so mad, thinkin’, I got to walk in this cold, so I better make sure they walk, too,” Daley says.

Police Capt. Andrew Solberg says a couple elsewhere off Sherman Circle suffered a trio of tire-slashings in December. “It’s obviously someone in the neighborhood,” Solberg says. “It’s malicious and sheer meanness, and we have nothing to work with whatsoever.”

The slasher has not surfaced for three weeks.

“This week [Feb. 4], I got tired of it, and I’m back out front. I’m putting my faith to work,” said Daley’s sister, who asks not to be identified. She has shelled out $750 because her insurance policy does not cover vandalism. And indeed, on the morning of Thursday, Feb. 5, her car, along with the two others bravely parked on Kansas Avenue, was untouched.

Daley says, “The officers did say it had happened in other places. I felt a little better, but I didn’t feel that special anymore.” CP