Crime

Someone has been throwing rocks at drivers along Pacheco Pass. CHP launches investigation

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Bruce Simmons describes his long commute on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. Simmons drives four days a week from the Central Valley on Highway 152 to Gilroy, where he catches a train to his job in Menlo Park.
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Bruce Simmons describes his long commute on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. Simmons drives four days a week from the Central Valley on Highway 152 to Gilroy, where he catches a train to his job in Menlo Park.

If you see or hear something hit your car on Pacheco Pass in the dark of night, it could be connected to a string of incidents involving a rock or marble-throwing man believed to be damaging vehicles since early last year.

After numerous reports of shattered windows and cars, California Highway Patrol officers are asking the public to report whenever they feel something hit their cars over the Highway 152 mountain pass between Gilroy and Los Banos, CHP Gilroy Officer Chris Miceli said.

CHP has been investing eight to 10 incidents of cars being damaged between Casa de Fruta and Dinosaur Point, the Santa Clara County side of Pacheco Pass, since February 2018. CHP Los Banos hasn’t received any such reports, Officer Shannon Stiers said.

“In some instances, it was one vehicle, in others, it was several vehicles,” Miceli said. “It’s kind of random in that respect.”

While some victims reported someone may have shot into their vehicles, officers don’t believe any guns have been used, Miceli said. The damage could have been done by a slingshot or other similar rock or marble-throwing device, but officers are still trying to figure that out.

Because all the incidents happened at night, Miceli said authorities could only narrow the identity of at least one suspect to a white male with shoulder-length hair. CHP at this point can’t confirm the same suspect is responsible for all the incidents.

“We encourage people to report anything, maybe even if was just the sound of something,” Miceli said, noting it’s likely there have been many more similar incidents that haven’t been reported. “The more cases that are reported with any type of damage, if we catch (the person responsible) we can connect them together.”

Anyone suspecting any type of damage to their vehicle in this stretch of Pacheco Pass is urged to contact CHP Gilroy Officer Katherine Tritenbach at 408-848-2324.

Vikaas Shanker is an award-winning reporter covering education, crime and courts for the Merced Sun-Star and Los Banos Enterprise. After growing up in Naperville, Illinois and graduating from the University of Kansas, he reported in several Chicago suburbs before moving to Merced County in 2016.
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