CCSO vehicle

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle appeared to have intentional damage.

ENGLEWOOD — A large chunk of coral shattered the back windshield of a patrol car Wednesday night, and deputies want to know who did it.

The vehicle was a marked and unmanned “decoy” car, sitting in the median of South McCall Road in Englewood.

Deputies did a neighborhood canvass Thursday morning, and one neighbor said they heard a loud noise around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, said Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Claudette Bennett

“They’re investigating it now,” Bennett said. “At this time that’s really all we have.”

The glass replacement is estimated at $462, pending other diagnostic tests, she said.

The sheriff’s office uses unmanned decoy patrol cars in high-traffic locations, in the hopes of getting drivers who see it to slow down.

“Usually it’s placed there based on callers’ input,” she said. “So if someone in your area is calling us saying that there’s a lot of speeding on their road, those are deployed for that purpose.”

That particular spot is a busy stretch of the four-lane South McCall, also known as State Road 776, just east of the Ainger Creek bridge. It’s between two popular restaurants, Mama’s Italian Restaurant and Farlow’s on the Water, and motorists often use the median break to turn into those places and the neighborhood side streets. The speed limit is 45 mph.

Since the car was unmanned, Bennett said it’s unlikely anyone was targeting a specific deputy. So far, the agency has no idea where the coral came from.

“Obviously it didn’t fall from the sky, so that’s definitely some criminal mischief right there,” Bennett said. “You usually don’t find that laying around at the beach even. That’s something you would kind of look for.”

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