Vandals target Brown County highway department


Police say vandals are costing the Brown County Highway Department thousands of dollars and that their crime potentially put people on the roads at risk.

Criminals damaged equipment, even tampered with truck brakes before they went out to salt the streets.

This winter has hit Brown County especially hard.

"It's been a real challenge," said Brown County Highway Superintendent Roger Cline. "We have a lot of equipment issues and of course money, because we've used so much salt and sand. We're a small county and we're limited on a budget."

That's why vandalism over the past few months hurt even more.

"We take this very serious. Very serious. Somebody did this who knows what they're doing on all this stuff. Wasn't a kid. It was somebody that has mechanical ability," Cline said.

Vandals targeted the highway garage in Nashville, week after week, damaging equipment.

"We've found wiring cut. We've found wires pulled out of the dash. We've had sand put in gas tanks. We've had water put in gas tanks. We've had additives added to a crank case on a truck, so when it started, it blew up," Cline explained.

He says the criminals put lives at risk too, by tampering with the brakes on two salt trucks.

Drivers didn't discover the problem until they were on the road, tried to stop and couldn't.

"Very dangerous. Very childish of someone. But the bottom line is, we don't want anybody hurt. We don't want our drivers hurt and we sure don't want the public hurt," Cline said.

Stopping the crime has been costly for this small department. They've installed cameras, lighting, and motion detectors. A security fence will be put in later this month.

That all comes at a cost of about $60,000.

Cline says that money will have to come from funds meant for emergencies and equipment.

"It's gonna hurt. It's gonna hurt bad," he said.

Both Nashville Police and the Brown County Sheriff's Department are now searching for the vandals who caused the damage. Since the Highway Department installed more security, vandals haven't hit again. But they say it was a dangerous crime during an already brutal season.

"Just that someone would go to the extremes that they do to endanger others, that's the frustrating part. That's the part that really makes you angry," Cline said.